Pictured: Eugene Hornbeck/
Eugene “Grumpy” Hornbeck, resident of Big Pine, California for 14 years, passed away on Valentine’s Day. He was 83.
Born in Elgin, Ill., in 1929, Gene’s life did not truly begin until 1945 when he first saw Dolores. It was not love at first sight like you would expect. When they first met they both were dating someone else. They actually went on a double date that had them sitting next to one another in a movie theater with their dates on opposite sides. But that night, Gene’s hand found its way into Dolores’s and he never let it go. In 1949, Gene asked Dolores’s strict father for permission to marry her. They were married on July 15, 1950. In their 62 years of marriage they experienced many adventures together. They would camp all over the United States, travel to Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, the 1986 World’s Fair.
Through his life, Gene would join the United States Army Reserves, working his way up to a Master Sergeant in the 63rd Infantry Division, Battery D, 6th Battalion 4th Artillery. His immediate crew was nicknamed “Hornbeck’s Hornets.” He also climbed Mt. Whitney, survived being struck by lightning, and became the Fire Commissioner for the Big Pine Fire Department.
His married life was never lacking in fun, humor, friends, family and love. For most of their lives they lived in Downey, California, where Gene worked as an Electrician.
Gene loved to fish, camp and be in the great outdoors. He loved photography, musicals and he could fix anything. He would help anyone that was in need and loved making people laugh, even with his last breaths. His granddaughter Allison gave him the name “Grumpy” when she was old enough to speak. If you knew him you would understand why. It was sincerely a term of endearment.
Grumpy was not famous or rich but to his family, he was everything. He taught how to love unconditionally, trust without question, respect the way you want to be respected and laugh uncontrollably, especially at oneself.
Gene is survived by his loving wife Dolores, daughter Kathy Marie Gehlert, son Douglas Eugene Hornbeck & girlfriend Yvonne, Grandchildren Allison & Erik Nelson, Sabrina & Marcelo Chavez and Great Grandchildren Hailey Dolores & Tanner Nelson and Matthew Hornbeck and Emma & Jeremy Chavez.