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Willard Gene Truskett

Willard Gene Truskett passed away on April 20, 2018.
He was born in August 1929 in Liberal, Missouri, to Zola Brooks and Carl Truskett. He graduated from Liberal High School in 1947 and left the farm with hopes of traveling the world. After working in Kansas City for a couple years, he attended the University of Missouri, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He was appointed Second Lieutenant Reserve in the United States Air Force on graduation day, June 7, 1953. While awaiting commission orders, he ventured west across the country taking on odd jobs including a memorable stint at the Ahwahnee Hotel at Yosemite National Park. He attended Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, entering active duty on November 29, 1953.
His military career in intelligence and logistics took him to Bad Tölz and Berlin, Germany; Stewart Force Base in Newburgh, NY; Langley AFB, Hampton, VA; Seoul, South Korea; Tachikawa, Japan; Scott AFB, O’Fallon, IL; Clark AFB, the Philippines; Tehran, Iran; Richards Gebaur AFB in Kansas City, MO; Udorn, Thailand; Saigon, South Vietnam; and finally back to Langley AFB, where he retired after 28 years of service at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He received numerous commendations for his dedication to service including the Bronze Star Medal, and spread good will towards all of the peoples and cultures he was fortunate to experience.
Gene later became certified as a realtor, embarking on a 30-plus-year second career, first at Larasan Realty, then Atlantic Homes and finally William E. Wood & Associates. He was active in the Virginia Peninsula Association of Realtors, serving on the board in various capacities including Treasurer, Vice President, and in 1997, President. Named Realtor of the Year in 1998, he relished meeting people from all walks of life, making them feel at home in Tidewater, VA.
In addition to his passion for travel, Gene had a number of other interests. He had a knack for entertaining, effortlessly cooking to the delight of family and friends. He enjoyed horticulture, establishing numerous Japanese-inspired gardens and producing years of fresh vegetables and flowers. His love of design resulted in the construction of several homes. Finally, he enjoyed and supported the arts, repeatedly saying that if he were to be reincarnated he would come back as a tap dancing, piano player.
Gene was a consummate people person with a great sense of humor, touting the moniker, “Lean Gene.” He volunteered time with Master Gardeners, Safe Haven, and the York River Exchange Club and their many projects, including Breakfast with Santa, Natasha House and the “Chicken BarBQ” fundraisers for which he made gallons and gallons of his special sauce.
Gene led a wonderful busy fulfilling life. He treated everyone with kindness, compassion, and respect, and especially loved his family. He was a devoted husband, terrific dad, and proud granddad. He is beloved and will be missed immensely. He leaves behind his wife of 60 years, Helen Lenko; daughter Olenna and son-in-law Steve Budd of Brewster, NY, and grandsons, Alec and Peter Budd; son Brooks and daughter-in-law Carole and granddaughters, Sienna and Flynn, of Glen Mills, PA; sister Bette Schaffhausen of Birmingham, AL; and brother David Truskett, of Cargill, MO. He follows his sister Margaret Bowman of Lee’s Summit, MO.
A funeral mass will be held at 5 pm on Saturday, May 12, 2018, at the Old Yorke Chapel, Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown, VA, with a life celebration reception following the service at Colonial Harbor, 2405 Fort Eustis Blvd. Gene will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors in the coming year. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, Arrangements are under care of Amory Funeral Home, Grafton, VA.

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