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Johnnie Eugene “Gene” Hess August 1, 1935 - February 28, 2024

Johnnie Eugene “Gene” Hess, 88, was born August 1, 1935, in Gooding, Idaho, and passed away February 28, 2024, in Eagle, Idaho, surrounded by family.

He spent his childhood running through the high desert from Bliss to King Hill, Fairfield, Clover Creek, and everywhere in between with his siblings and friends.

Gene moved to Donnelly with his family his sophomore year. He graduated from Donnelly-McCall High School in 1954 and played on the state championship football team his senior year.

After high school, he joined the Army and received an honorable discharge two years later in 1956. After returning home, he went to visit his brother in Havre, Montana, where he met the love of his life, Shirley Finley. They were married on February 16, 1958, and he brought her back to McCall where they started their family. While there, he worked for Brown Tie & Lumber in the woods and raced Polaris snowmobiles on the Northwest Circuit.

In 1969, he moved his family to the Horseshoe Bend area to pursue his ranching career. He became the ranch manager for Double Diamond Ranch in 1971 and lived the rest of his years doing what he loved.  He spent a lot of time horseback on the mountain and raised some really nice horses along the way.  He had no idea what a role model and mentor he was or the impact he had on the young men that worked for him on the ranch. Gene had a lifetime of good memories and dear friends.

He retired in 1999 and, for the first time in his life, was the proud owner of his own small ranch. After losing his soulmate in 2002, he returned to the Double Diamond Ranch for the next few years.

Gene was a man of honesty, loyalty, and, most of all, integrity, and he never wavered from that.  He was quick to tease with an ornery smile and a twinkle in his eye that made everyone feel like a favorite.  He spent countless hours watching his grandkids play sports and he never missed a game as long as he was able.  Gene leaves behind a huge legacy of family, friends, and memories that will live on forever.

He was preceded in death by his wife Shirley, father John, mother Elsie, sister Clarice, and brothers Marshal and Harry.

Gene is survived by his children Diane (Rick) Grint, Don (Debbie) Hess, Genie (Robbie Keys) Burk, and brothers Leroy (Mardell) Hess and Alan Hess. He was the proud Papa of nine grandchildren Casey Grint, Angie (Chad) Bennett, Corey Hess, Kym (Jobie) Catherman, Dalley (Kelly Dooms) Burk, Hailey (Dax) Campbell, Korina (Michael) Ball, Levi Burk and Miles Burk, twelve great-grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, four additional children that he raised, a special friend of 72 years, Gene Swift, and so many others he called friends and “family.”

The family would like to especially thank all those who were caretakers, including the staff at Grace Memory Care in Eagle, for loving and taking care of our Cowboy during his final months.

There will be a Celebration of Life on Saturday, March 16, 2024, at Willow Grove Event Center in Emmett at 2:00pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Gene’s name to the Shirley Hess Memorial Scholarship at the Horseshoe Bend High School, 398 School Drive, Horseshoe Bend, ID 83629.

There will be a Celebration of Life on Saturday, March 16, 2024, at Willow Grove Event Center in Emmett at 2:00pm.

Condolences(3)

  1. REPLY
    Joe Kennedy says

    I’m so sorry to hear about Gene. He was always very good to me. Good old cowboys are getting hard to find.

  2. REPLY
    chuck morgan says

    RIP Gene, you’re last of the Cowboys around here!

  3. REPLY
    Ball Family says

    Papa Geno, i can’t believe you are gone but there is no more suffering and at peace now. I now you are going to be watching out for every one with grandma Shirley. I going to miss you everyday for the rest of my life. love you 😭👨‍🌾

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In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Gene’s name to the Shirley Hess Memorial Scholarship at the Horseshoe Bend High School, 398 School Drive, Horseshoe Bend, ID 83629.