Gene Groves died at his home in Dayton, Nevada, Sunday November 13 after a long illness. Gene was blessed with uncommon strength, intelligence, and drive that served him well to lead a very productive, good life. It also served his family and friends who came to know him as someone very special. He was well loved, and he is deeply missed.
He was born in Missouri, July 23rd 1941, to Raymond and Jessie Groves, and after high school, he served in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1961. While in the army, he fell in love with a lady named Carol in Michigan where they were married and had their first daughter, Sheri. After he left the army, they lived in California where Mary was born, and where he began his railroad career with the Western Pacific Railroad. In 1964, Gene moved his family to Elko, Nevada where his two daughters graduated from high school. He continued to work for the Western Pacific Railroad, which became part of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1983.
Gene was originally hired as a carpenter and was part of a gang who repaired the rails, bridges, and other structures. During these early years he traveled about the west where he lived in a boxcar, returning home on the weekends. He quickly rose to become a local road master, then district road master.
Gene proved to be a very superior employee, and he continued to climb from his humble beginnings until he became Chief Engineer of all Bridges and Structures for the Union Pacific Railroad. At this point, he was working with the top echelon of the Union Pacific Railroad, and at times, he rode the rails with Dick Chaney, and Henry Kissinger who was chairman of the board. What a wonderful accomplishment this was for a man with little formal education.
Gene learned everything there was to know about the Union Pacific bridges, and he wrote a large, complex computer program that contained a complete dossier for every bridge. With a few clicks of his mouse button, he could tell you where a bridge was located, its size, type of bridge, age, state of repair, life expectancy, and the funds necessary to repair or replace this bridge. Using this information, he was able to assign work to be done and propose budgets for the ensuing years.
Gene is responsible for several new railroad components still in use today. They include the use of concrete railroad crossings to make it safer and easier for car and foot traffic. They are used all over the United States now. He made concrete decks, and he helped invent the electric flange oiler for the curves. He invented an electronic device that monitors the wheels on the train for hot spots, which is important for preventing damage to the rails and train derailment. One of his coworkers said “he probably should have been an inventor.”
Gene and Carol had two children together, and after her untimely passing in 1985, Gene was introduced to Monika, who became his loving wife for the next 30 years. He helped raise Monika’s two daughters, Karen and Susan, and her grandson, Matthew.
For much of his working life, Gene’s occupation required him to live in Texas, Missouri, and in Omaha, Nebraska. When he retired in 1999, he and Monika moved to a golf course community in Dayton, NV where he continued to play golf until his health would no longer permit this activity. Now he was back in Nevada, near his daughters and his brother Rick, and importantly near many wonderful lakes for fishing. Blue lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains became his favorite spot to cast a worm and surrender to this calm and majestic setting. He was also in the midst of a multitude of dirt roads, which appealed to his great curiosity. He was always curious what lay around the next bend in the mountains or the next wash in Nevada’s deserts.
He is survived by his wife, Monika, his two daughters, Mary (faculty member of the University of Nevada), and Sheri (banker), and his grandson John (golf pro in the making). He is also survived by Monika’s two daughters: Karen (nurse) and her two children, Aaron and Hannah; Susan (nurse), and Susan’s son, Matthew, who named his first child Gene in memory of the man most central to his life; and his sister, Linda Drakos and two aunts, Virginia Haworth and Aileen Gaylor.