Eugene Edwin Eggebrecht came into this world on Oct. 27, 1930, at the home of local midwife Tilly Beck, a few miles down the road from the Vida, Montana, family homestead where he would spend most of his life. He was youngest of six children born to Frank and Caroline Eggebrecht. Gene, or ‘ Big Jake ‘ as some called him, grew up to be a six-foot-four colossus, and he was a self-described ‘pick and shovel’ man – which didn’t deter him from occasionally attempting various fine carpentry projects, with about the results you would expect. To say that Gene liked to work would be an understatement, and he was lucky enough to spend his life doing what he loved, farming under a big Montana sky. If you knew Gene, you knew where you stood with him. The product of a strict German Catholic upbringing and tough work in sometimes unforgiving country, Gene could be a hard man at times, without much grey area in his thought process. That said, he had a jovial, playful side that persevered through his final days, as his nurses can attest.
Gene spent his younger years working at this and that, including a stint driving cab in Billings. He sowed a few wild oats until he found the love of his life, Diane Hunter, when he hit the straight and narrow. They married on June 18, 1960, and he took over the family farm. Gene and Diane adopted three children in 1962, 1963, and 1966. Gene was always the rock, the unmovable, unchanging anchor of the family. A solid Catholic, Gene was community-minded, a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Elks Club. Gene was devoted to his children, his wife, and his beloved dogs. Gene gave his all to Diane as her health declined over the years, and spent countless hours taking care of her until her death on August 10, 2006.
Gene died peacefully on April 5, 2019, surrounded by his three children: Michael (Lynn), Patrick (Sherri), Eileen (Stuart). He is survived by seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and by his dear friend, Dorothy, his next-door neighbor who was a source of joy and friendship in the last years of his life. Gene’s family wishes to thank his physician of many years, Dr. Michael Hagan, and the many caregivers who provided him with comfort in his last months. We owe a debt of gratitude to the nurses, aids, and staff at St. Vincent Hospital, St. John’s Lutheran Ministries, and Riverstone Health Hospice House. You are doing God’s work, and we are endlessly thankful for all that you did to make our dad’s final days peaceful. A mass of Christian burial will be held in early June at St. Pius Catholic Church in Billings, Montana. Memorials preferred to Rimrock Humane Society or an animal-rescue organization of the donor’s choice.