Ernest Eugene “Gene” McNee was born April 18, 1930 in Twin Falls, Idaho. Gene’s parents were farmers and farm life in the 1930s was not easy, but it certainly taught him a strong work ethic that was evident throughout his life. One of the family’s favorite stories from Gene’s younger years is that he rode to school in Dietrich, Idaho in a large sled with a wood stove! The Dietrich farm had no electricity or indoor plumbing, so when they moved to Shoshone, Idaho to a house with plumbing and electricity, it was a big deal! Gene’s main memory that he shared about that move was he was 12 years old at the time and drove the tractor the nine miles from the old farm to the new and it was really, really cold - late November.
Gene was a good student and was able to attend the University of Idaho where he earned a degree in accounting and was in the ROTC program. After graduating, he joined the Air Force and was stationed for several years in Fairbanks, Alaska. Before reporting to base, he and a friend spent time in Los Angeles where Gene met Patti, a petite southern belle from Texas. In a whirlwind romance they eloped to Las Vegas before heading to Fairbanks. This story was a favorite of some of Gene’s nieces, because it seemed so out of character for the methodical planner they knew their Uncle Gene to be! The initial romance between Gene and Patti was short, but the marriage lasted 53 years, until Patti’s death in 2006.
From Fairbanks Gene moved his growing family to Boise where he worked as an accountant before pursuing a career dream. He became an FBI agent and moved to Los Angeles, CA. As an FBI agent he was able to put his accounting skills to work to help track down criminals by finding and following the “money trail”. At that time most FBI agents were centered in large metropolitan areas and Gene knew he wanted to raise his two sons in Idaho, so they moved back to Idaho.
He worked at Hardy Brothers and later as Comptroller of Hillcrest Country Club in the 1960’s and fueled his love of golf as well as passed that passion along to his youngest son, Bruce. Though this job kept Gene quite busy, he still managed to attend Mark and Bruce’s youth sports games and other activities. Gene wanted to spend more time with the family than the Hillcrest job allowed, so he went to work for Triangle Young Dairy, where he worked for 20 years until his retirement.
Gene loved to play golf and to watch it, and he was able to attend the Master’s Tournament as well as others, collecting a fair number of hats as mementos. An even bigger passion than golf for Gene was family, especially his grandchildren, Heather and Ian. Gene and Patti were actively involved in the grandkids’ lives and never missed an opportunity to watch them in their activities or to just be with them. Gene kept his refrigerator well covered with photos of his beloved grandkids!
Gene was gentle, extremely kind, generous, and had a wonderful sense of humor. He had a large circle of friends and will be missed by many people. He will be especially missed by his family - his sons, Mark McNee, Bruce (Lynn) McNee, grandchildren Heather McNee and Ian (Tara) McNee; sister Sharon (Gene) Eyraud, and nieces and nephews. He is preceded by his wife Patti, and his sisters Beverly Mullins and Wanda McNee. A Celebration of Life gathering will be held on Sat. September 23rd at 11am at the Cloverdale Funeral Home Reception Hall. In lieu of flowers donations may be sent to the American Cancer Society.