Gene Austin Reed passed away on July 23, 2017, at Mat-Su Regional Hospital, surrounded by his family. He was born to Kenneth and Bernice Reed on Nov. 14, 1940, in Austin, Minn. However, he was raised by a great-aunt and uncle on a rural farm in southern Minnesota, where he attended a one-room schoolhouse until high school. He graduated from Hayfield High School in 1958.
In 1960, a friend asked Gene to help him move to Alaska, and he agreed, just for the adventure. Once he arrived, he fell in love with the state and never went back. He was a land surveyor, working initially for the Corps of Engineers and then for the City of Anchorage.
He met his wife, Bette, and married in 1969. Together they built a log home in the heart of the Matanuska Valley, where they raised a family and continued to reside until his passing. Always the farm boy at heart, Gene loved his Ford 9N tractor and used it to cut hay, plow snow, till the garden and much more. He once drove home from vacation in Minnesota with a trunk full of tractor parts and accessories he'd scored.
Gene retired from the Municipality of Anchorage Public Works Department with 30 years of service. Retirement allowed him to do more of what he loved: hunting, fishing, gold mining and exploring Alaska - whether by truck, snowmachine, 4-wheeler or foot. He always provided food for his family from hunting and fishing and even landed a Boone & Crockett qualifying caribou one year. He also loved airplanes and flying in small aircraft. He learned to fly as a young man, but was never able to get his private pilot's license due to a heart condition, so he bought a boat instead!
Gene was a self-taught man of many talents. He could build or fix just about anything, and did, whether it took carpentry, welding, mechanical, electrical, plumbing or just plain manual labor. He was willing to help anyone who needed it, loved hunting the most - including telling the stories - and he loved and was extremely grateful for his family.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Bette Reed; his daughter and son-in-law, Debby and Keenan Retherford; his son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Nali Reed; and two grandsons whom he adored more than anything, Shon Reed and Jack Retherford.
He requested no service. Condolences may be mailed to: Bette Reed, 7533 E. Jim Cottrell Circle, Palmer, AK 99645. Arrangements were cared for by Valley Funeral Home & Cremation Service.