Major (Ret.) Eugene "Gene" Podhajsky, 80, formerly of Cedar Rapids, passed awa peacefully on March 6, 2012, at his home in Georgetown, Texas. Military graveside services were conducted by the USAF at the Central Texas Military Cemetery in Killeen, Texas, on April 18, 2012.
He is survived by two daughters: Gail (Art) Adams of Cedar Park, Texas, Dr. Paula Podhajsky and partner Kim Styles of Kyle, Texas; two sons, Eugene Jr. of Kyle, Texas and Michael of Terrell, Texas; sister Betty (Duane) McNeal of Iowa City, brother Richard Mason of Iowa City; ten grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one nephew and four nieces.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his former wife Evelyn, a daughter Brenda and a nephew Tyler McNeal.
Gene was born August 1, 1931, in Clutier to Fred and Bessie (Hach) Podhajsky. At age four, his mother died and the children were divided among relatives. Gene lived with his aunt and uncle Emma (Podhajsky) and J.R. Novotny in rural Clutier.
In 1944, his father remarried and Gene and his brother went to live with him and their stepmother in Cedar Rapids. In 1948, he graduated from Wilson High School and worked for First Trust & Savings Bank.
In 1950, he entered the USAF and was accepted into the officer and flight training program. He graduated as a pilot and commissioned reserve officer.
In 1954, he married Evelyn Quassa of Dennison, Texas, and they were blessed with five children.
After advanced training as a jet fighter pilot, he served in the Air Defense Command in the U.S. and Europe. Later, he served four tours of duty in Vietnam, flying aircraft and light bombers. During this period, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal and other citations for valor.
Gene retired in Cedar Park, Texas, and later moved to Georgetown. He enjoyed cooking, gardening, fishing, golfing and casino craps. He had a passion for trading in the commodity and stock markets. He loved the company and support of his children and grandchildren. He had established great relationships with many neighbors who gave him tremendous help and support throughout his long battle with lung cancer.