Eugene “Gene” Kovarik, age 79, of Protivin, Iowa, died Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Mayo Clinic Hospital – St. Marys Campus.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. with Father Aaron Junge officiating. Burial will be in Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 from 4-7 p.m. at Hindt-Hudek Funeral Home in Protivin, IA, and will continue at the church for one hour prior to the service on Wednesday.
Eugene “Gene” Francis Kovarik, son of Ben and Dorothy (Pechota) Kovarik, was born October 28, 1939 in Winneshiek County across the road from his grandparents and located 4 miles north of Jackson Junction. At the age of 3, Gene and his parents moved to a farm 3 and 1/2 miles south of Protivin. Gene began his education for one year attending a country school just l mile south of his home and first grade in Protivin. He attended grades 2-5 at St. Wenceslaus school in Spillville while he lived with his maternal grandmother Katherine Pechota. Gene received his First Communion on May 9, 1948 and Confirmation on April 28, 1950, both while in Spillville. His 6th through 8th grades were finished at Holy Trinity Catholic school in Protivin. While living on the farm, he helped with raising hogs, milking cows, and crop farming. His father was selling Zenith televisions, therefore Gene had to help with the installations.
In December 16, 1957, Gene enlisted in the Air Force getting his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas and then moving to aircraft school at Wichita Falls, Texas. Following this, he left for Tachikawa, Japan serving a total of 2 years. He finished his enlistment at Barksdale Air Force Base at Shreveport, Louisiana. The Berlin crisis added a 6 month extension to his enlistment. During his time of service to his country, Gene was able to finish his high school education and received his diploma on May of 1961 from Rudolphinum High School in Protivin. He was honorably discharged on May 8, 1962. He went to find employment at New Hampton where he started working for Henning’s Implement, and later worked for Home Gas.
On September 15, l962 Gene married Rita Infeld at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Protivin. Four sons were born to this union: Karl, Keith, Kris and Kurt. Gene and Rita lived on a farm 5 miles south of Protivin which was owned by Gene’s grandparents, John and Catherine (Panos) Pechota. The farm has remained in the same family for over 100 years making it a century farm in l978. They raised beef cattle and crop farmed until retiring and moving to Protivin in September of 2010 where Gene enjoyed watching the deer and wild turkey in the adjacent field. In l965 Gene was hired at the Donaldson Plant in Cresco. He retired on April 1, 2005 after 40 years.
Over the years, Gene has served on the parish council, held offices of recorder and Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus 3rd degree, and also is a 4th degree Knights of Columbus member. He is on the 2nd and 3rd degree team and has attended many KC conventions. He is an American Legion Post 605 member, of which he held the office of adjutant and historian. Gene is a member of the Czech choir and Holy Trinity choir, was chairman of the pickup raffle for the centennial in 1978, and was on the main committee of the first Czech days celebration in 1979. Gene was also a Boy Scout leader of Troop #58 for 16 years, achieving the Leadership Training Certificate, District Award of Merit, Silver Beaver, St. George, and Order of the Arrow Vigil Honor. After retirement, Gene was the Treasurer of the Czech Heritage Partnership and ran the food lunch stand along with Rita for Greentree Auction, retiring in October of 2018 after doing 97 auctions.
Gene enjoyed mechanical work in his shop and taking care of his roses. Since Gene and Rita are both of Czech ancestry and both understand the Czech language, they have visited the Czech Republic 11 times. Six of these trips were tours which they had organized. They have visited 18 foreign lands including taking a trip to the Holy Land in 2018, which was a highlight of Gene’s life. They have visited all but 3 of our states, most recently celebrating their 2018 Christmas in Destiny, FL with all their sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.
Gene is survived by his loving wife Rita of 56 years, sons Karl (Vicki), Keith (Kelli), Kris (Jennifer) and Kurt (Kathy), grandchildren Mikaela, Kade, Emma, Andrew, Katerina, Isaak, Ainsley, Camilla and Charlie, siblings Janet Ellickson, James (Jennie) Kovarik, and Joan Claude, sister-in-law Marlene Hayek and husband Edward, and 10 nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents Benjamin & Dorothy Kovarik.
Online condolences may be left at www.Hindthudekfuneralhomes.com