Eugene Cummings of rural Knoxville, age 98, passed away Thursday, November 2, 2023. Funeral services will be held Monday, November 6, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. at the Knoxville First United Methodist Church. Interment with military honors will be at the Graceland Cemetery following the service.
Family will receive friends on Sunday afternoon from 2:00 until 4:00 p.m. at the Church. Memorials in Eugene’s memory may be made to the Knoxville First United Methodist Church of which he was a member. Pierschbacher Funeral Home is helping with the arrangements.
Loren Eugene (Gene) Cummings was born February 5, 1925, to Loren H. and Mary Sims Cummings. The family moved when Gene was six months old to the farm that he made his home for 98 years. He enjoyed his childhood with his sister, Dorothy, and brother, Jim. For eight years Gene attended Liberty Country School, which was just across the road from the family farm. Gene then went to Knoxville High School, graduating in 1942.
Gene enlisted in the United States Army in 1945 and was eventually stationed on the Pacific Island of Northern Honshu. He shared stories of how bitterly cold it was on the island, with lives lost during the night as troops slept with only a blanket to lay on and a blanket to cover them. He was there when the atomic bomb was dropped and was then sent on to Japan where he was assigned the job of transporting prisoners by train across the country. He was released from duty January 2nd of 1947, returning to the farm. He was proud to have served and grateful for being a part of the Honor Flight to Washington D.C. in 2009.
Gene had fallen in love with Norma Jeanne Emerson prior to the war. They were married June 27, 1948, with Norma Jeanne wearing a gown made of the parachute silk that Gene had sent home to her from Japan. The marriage was blessed with two daughters, Linda and Cinda. Gene and Norma Jeanne worked hand in hand helping each other raise the girls and grow the farming operation. As a young farmer, Gene was active on various boards. He was a past president of the Marion County Pork Producers and the Knoxville Co-op.
Together, Gene and Norma Jeanne milked cows, raised registered Hampshire hogs, and grew corn, soybeans and hay. When Gene gave up milking, he started feeding fat cattle, which he enjoyed selecting and buying at local sale barns. Gene always had a beloved Border Collie by his side.
Although Gene was an incredibly hardworking man, he also liked to have a little fun. There wasn’t time for vacations, but short trips were planned around the farm routine. The girls remember leaving for the Iowa State Fair after the 4 am milking and taking a picnic lunch, then being home again by 4 pm for the evening milking. The Fair was an annual highlight, and at the 2015 Iowa State Fair, Gene, with his family by his side, was honored to receive a Century Farm Award. As a young man, he went to the races almost every Saturday night–the only event he went to without Norma Jeanne. Gene also enjoyed hunting pheasant and quail with his bird dogs; roasted quail with mushroom sauce was a special treat. Gene enjoyed woodworking, and under the close supervision and finish work of Norma Jeanne, they made beautiful treasures for the family. They also enjoyed antiquing and going to auctions. Gene and Norma Jeanne attended sheep dog trials for many years. When things slowed down, they turned their attention to spending time and creating special memories with each of their five grandchildren.
Gene loved his family, the farm, the work, and the progress he made throughout the years. The farm will remain with his family and his legacy will continue.
Gene will be greatly missed by his daughters, Linda (Bob) Pitt of Bondurant and Cinda (Don) Synhorst of rural Knoxville; 5 grandchildren: Shawna (Michael) Johansen, Ryan (Courtney) Pitt, Megan (Mark) Mangum, Codi (Mark) Prachar, and Tanner (Courtney) Synhorst; 12 great grandchildren: Liam Johansen, Brock, Kaston, Ames and Laston Pitt, Jude and Ezra Mangum, Bale and Vada Prachar, and Dirk, Loren, and Clay Synhorst; along with many nieces, nephews, relatives, special neighbors and friends.
Preceding him in death was his wife, Norma Jeanne Cummings; his parents, Loren H. and Mary Cummings; and siblings: George Cummings who died in infancy, Dorothy (Don) Vanden Berg, and Jim (Ada Mae) Cummings.