CHARLESTON, IL – H. Gene McFarland of Charleston, Illinois, died peacefully at home on Thursday, July 15, 2021, in the presence of his daughter, sister-in-law, two nieces and a close friend. A Graveside Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at Lakeview Cemetery in Johnston City, Illinois with Reverend Tom Corum officiating. It is requested that memorial gifts in his honor be made to the E.I.U. Foundation - Dolly J. and H. Gene McFarland Scholarship, or to Wesley United Methodist Church where Gene was a member and attended church regularly. Gifts may be mailed in care of Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, Illinois 61920.
Gene was born on December 8, 1929, in Carbondale, Illinois, and was the only child of the late Henry Onis McFarland and Jessie Roberts McFarland. He is survived by a daughter, Jeanna McFarland, a son Lynn McFarland and wife Paula, two granddaughters, Kelsey Danae McFarland and husband Nicholas Dudley and Caitlin Brianne McFarland, sister-in-law Linda Lattuada Williams of Herrin, Illinois, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife of 72 years Dolly J. (Perrine) McFarland and sister-in-law Betty Samuel of southern Illinois.
Gene was originally from Johnston City, Illinois, and graduated from Johnston City High School where he was an outstanding track and basketball star. He continued his athletic career at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, playing on both the university’s track and basketball teams. Unfortunately, his athletic career ended prematurely when he seriously injured his ankle while running track. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Southern Illinois University and attended post graduate courses at Eastern Illinois University (EIU), Charleston, Illinois.
While at Southern Illinois University he assisted Dr. William Freeburg in starting the Touch of Nature Camp for youth at Little Grassy Lake. This camp is still serving the youth in Illinois.
Gene taught and coached at Tamaroa High School, Sesser High School, and East Richland Junior and Senior High Schools before accepting a position at EIU in the Physical Education and Student Teaching Departments. He was a lifetime member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Illinois Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Southern Illinois University Alumni Association, National Education Association and National Rifle Association. He served as Vice President for the Illinois Association, served as President, and held other offices and served on numerous committees in the Southeastern Division of the Illinois Association. He was a member of the Illinois High School Athletic Association and served as an official in basketball and track. Gene was an official track starter at local high schools and EIU, including the honor of being the Head Timer and Head Starter at numerous Illinois State Championship Track Meets. Gene assisted many years at the IHSA State Boys and Girls Track Meets held in May at Eastern Illinois University.
His whole life he was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to duck, goose, and dove hunt. This also included teaching grandchildren, nieces, and nephews the art of hunting and shooting. He often made and hand painted his hunting decoys. During duck and goose hunting seasons he was up before dawn traveling to Lake Charleston or Shelbyville Lake or one of the many lakes in southern Illinois. He was a yearly sponsor of Ducks Unlimited and served on several committees. For several summers he was involved in teaching the Illinois Driver’s License Examiners new commercial driver’s license requirements and often assisted in teaching the Illinois Department of Conservation Safe Hunter Classes.
Gene loved and was excellent at Trap and Skeet and won many local tournaments. He passed his passion on by initiating trap/skeet classes at EIU. His syllabus for the trap and skeet class was adopted by the Remington Arms Company. He also taught rifle and pistol shooting classes at the EIU indoor shooting range. Another of his loves was ballroom dancing. He was one of the most popular ballroom dance instructors in the EIU Physical Education Department. He and Dolly loved to travel and visited many countries on six continents. They often taught adult ballroom dance classes while on board the cruise ships as well as in the community.
Gene was a loving husband and devoted to his children and grandchildren. He attended his son’s and grandchildren’s athletic events whenever possible. It was special when the entire family would travel together while creating wonderful memories to forever cherish.
Gene was an excellent teacher. Teaching was a love of his life and he never regretted his career choice. Gene was well respected by his students and colleagues and was much loved by his family and many friends.
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