Eugene ‘Grumpy’ Hornbeck
Eugene “Grumpy” Hornbeck, age 83, a 14-year Big Pine resident, was born in Elgin, Ill. on May 10, 1929 and passed away on Feb. 14, 2013 at 2:30 a.m.
Gene’s life did not truly begin until 1945 when he first saw Dolores. It was not love at first sight like you would expect. When they first met they both were dating someone else. They actually went on a double date that had them sitting next to one another in a movie theater with their dates on opposite sides. Somehow that night Gene’s hand found it’s way in to Dolores’ and he never let it go.
On Oct. 16, 1949, Gene asked Dolores’s strict father for permission to marry her. They were married on July 15, 1950. In their 62 years of marriage, they experienced a lot of life and adventures together. They would camp all over the United States, travel to Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, the 1986 World’s Fair. They would have two wonderful children, two beautiful granddaughters and five perfect great-grandchildren. Through his life he would join the United States Army Reserves, work his way up to a Master Sergeant in the 63rd Infantry Division, Battery D, 6th Battalion 4th Artillery; his immediate crew was nicknamed the “Hornbeck’s Hornets.”
He climbed Mt. Whitney, he survived being struck by lighting, and became the Fire Commissioner for the Big Pine Fire Department. Their life was never lacking in fun, humor, friends, family and love. For most of their lives they lived in Downey. In 1994 Gene retired as an electrician from Thermador Waste King and they moved to one of their favorite places, the High Sierra.
Gene loved to fish, camp and be in the great outdoors. He loved photography and musicals and he could fix anything. He would help anyone that was in need and loved making people laugh, even with his last breaths. His granddaughter Allison gave him the name “Grumpy” when she was old enough to speak. If you knew him you would understand why. It was sincerely a term of endearment.
With Grumpy we lost one of the greatest men that this world has ever known. He was not famous or rich but to his family he was our everything. Grumpy was smart, caring, feisty, creative, funny, loving and kind. He taught us how to love unconditionally, trust without question, respect the way you want to be respected and laugh uncontrollably, especially at ourselves. Our hearts are all hurting and he is missed so deeply but he will never be forgotten and his love and stories will live on to be shared by all of our future generations. This world is a better place because of him.
He is survived by his loving wife, Dolores Hornbeck; daughter, Kathy Marie Gehlert; son, Douglas Eugene Hornbeck and his girlfriend, Yvonne; grandchildren, Allison and Erik Nelson and Sabrina and Marcelo Chavez; and great-grandchildren, Hailey Dolores and Tanner Nelson, Matthew Hornbeck and Emma and Jeremy Chavez.