March 1, 1946 – October 28, 2015
Gene Mielke, 69, died October 28, 2015, at Providence Portland Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. Gene had knee replacement surgery the day before his death.
Gene was born in Visalia, California, married Karen Lee Ragle in 1968, then moved to San Luis Obispo so he could continue his education at Cal Poly. After Cal Poly, they moved to East Lansing, Michigan, where he received his Ph.D. in pomology (the science that deals with fruits and fruit growing) from Michigan State University.
In 1975 they moved to Tucson, Arizona, where Gene taught some classes at the University of Arizona and helped encourage the growing of wine grapes and making wine. While there, he collected many bottles of wine.
In 1984 they moved once again, to Hood River, and Gene became superintendent of the Experiment Station. Their moving van had a cooler in it to keep the wine at a constant temperature. The van was stored in the basement of the house at the Experiment Station until Gene and Karen moved into their current home, in which Gene built a wine cellar.
While in Tucson, Gene became very interested in ham radio. He continued his passion of ham radio and after moving to Hood River, became involved with the Radio Amateurs of the Gorge (RAGs). Since 1984, Gene and RAGs have been a vital part in the Cross-Channel Swim, making sure all swimmers are safe and accounted for.
Once his son became involved with the Hood River Valley Swim Team, Gene became involved in officiating. At first it was just the local level, but with time, he officiated at state championship meets and western zone meets. He was also involved in officiating at Paralympic meets across the United States.
Gene was very tender-hearted and generous. He was always willing to help others, even at a moment’s notice. He encouraged everyone to be the best person they could be, and he always stood up and did the right thing, even if it wasn’t the “popular” thing to do.
Gene was a long-time official for Oregon Masters meets and for National and International Masters events held in the Pacific Northwest. He gave so much of himself to OMS, that, in 2014, he was awarded a USA-Swimming lifetime membership from OMS and was recognized in the November/December, 2014, issue of the “Aqua Master”. The award was presented at a session of the USA-Swimming House of Delegates in Jacksonville, Florida. Gene was totally surprised and very pleased at receiving the award. Since USA Swimming membership is required for OMS officials, this award was a great benefit to Gene.
OMS Members remember Gene
Gene has been a mainstay as an official in our Oregon Masters Swimming world for years, has worked at our USMS National Championships held in Oregon for as long as I can remember, and was always the guy who showed up for our local high school meets here in Hood River. He will be sorely missed.
Gene was such a wonderful person and an absolute pleasure to have on deck at swim meets. Gene had been officiating since I was a little kid and I will always remember him.
He (Gene) was a wonderful man and so full of life. We all will miss his presence and knowledge in meets to come.
Well, said, we will all miss Gene Mielke.