Published in Tri-City
Herald from 6/3 to 6/4/2009
Gene Carlson, age 77, our beloved husband, father and coach passed away June 1, 2009, in Pasco, WA. He was born in Fort Benton, MT February 20, 1932 to A.V. Carlson and Anna Mae Carlson. He spent his early year on the family homestead near Fort Benton, MT.
His family moved to Great Falls where he graduated from GFHS in 1949. He was an all state football and baseball player at GFHS. He went on to play football and baseball at the University of Montana. His enrollment there in 1949 started a long tradition of UM football players and scholar athletes that continues 3 generations later with the 4th generation 'in the wings.' This was a great source of pride for 'Coach.'
While in college he enlisted in the ROTC program and upon graduation in 1954, he married the love of his life and high school sweetheart, Kathryn Belle Lindseth. The newlyweds began their 55 married years together at Lowry Air Base in Denver, Colorado, where he was stationed until 1956. Jeff and Bruce were born during their time in Denver.
After his honorable discharge in 1956 he signed a professional baseball contract to play baseball in the New York Yankee organization. He dreamed that one day he would play alongside Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Whitey Ford in the 'House That Ruth Built.' He made it to the AAA level but not to Yankee Stadium.
In 1958 he, Kathy and the boys moved back to his home town, and he began teaching at GFHS and coaching his beloved Bison. He coached the Bison until 1973. During his time in GF his 3 beautiful daughters were born, the Bison won 4 state championships, both sons and nephew, Steve, played on his championship teams. He was elected to the Montana Coaches Association Hall of Fame. 'Coach' loved his time in Great Falls.
In 1973 the family moved to Missoula where he was an assistant football coach at his alma mater, the University of Montana. In 1976 he became head coach and coached the Grizzlies until 1979.
Beginning in 1980 Gene, Kathy and daughter Stephanie moved to Pasco. He loved his years as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Pasco School systems. He dearly loved his friends and life in Pasco.
His many accomplishments included:
Colonel in the USAF/Air National Guard for 23 years;
A Master's Degree in Public Administration from George Washington University;
Outstanding High School Educator award in 1972;
Co-Founder of the Montana Coaches Association;
State Director and volunteer for the Special Olympics.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents A.V. and Anna Mae Carlson; sister Mary Ann Butler; and granddaughter Lexie Carlson.
He is survived by his wife Kathy of Pasco, WA; brothers, Tony Carlson of Great Falls, MT; Terry Carlson of Great Falls, MT; Randy Carlson of Helena, MT; sister, Neva Passage of Helena, MT; children, Jeff (Nan) Carlson of Tulsa, OK; Bruce (Judy) Carlson of Billings, MT; Wendie (Terry) Thomas of Dillon, MT; Kim (Jim) Brant of Reno, NV; Stephanie Carlson of Pasco, WA; and 15 grandchildren.
Above all Gene loved his wife and family and especially his granddaughter, Lexie, who passed away in 1988 and his life. We will miss him dearly.
A Memorial Service will be Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. at Mueller's Greenlee Funeral Home, 1608 W. Court St., Pasco. A Graveside Service will be held at Great Falls, Montana, at Highland Cemetery, Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 4:00 p.m.
The family invites you to sign their online guest book at www. muellersfuneralhomes.com.
Mueller's Greenlee Funeral Home in Pasco is in charge of the arrangements.