January 8, 1930 —November 19, 2017
Eugene Arthur Hartl passed away on the evening of Sunday, November 19, 2017 at Creekside Country Care in Lebanon, due to complications from many years of hard work, nonstop learning and endless generosity.
He was born on January 8, 1930 in Crane, Montana, just a few miles from North Dakota. His parents were Arthur Z. and Ora E. (Hull) Hartl. He joined sisters Dorothy, Beatrice, Marjorie and Janet and brother Raymond and was promptly spoiled rotten.
They lived in the log home their parents built on their homestead about 20 years earlier. They raised grain and livestock, dealt in horses, lumber and real estate and did whatever else they could to scratch a living from those dry Montana hills.
His first eight years of school were at the two-room school at Crane with 40 or 50 other farm kids. The plumbing consisted of a long-handled pump on the back porch, and electricity arrived about the seventh grade.
His grandparents’ farm neighbored the school on three sides and his Granddad Hull farmed with a team of ornery mules. So, anyone who spent much time at the school got at least a liberal education in how to cuss a mule.
Being the only chick left in the nest, he moved to Lebanon with his parents in 1944. He went to Lebanon Union High School, graduating in 1948.
On April 23, 1950, he married Jeannette (Baggett) Jones and her three children, Larry, Garry and Linda at her parents’ home in Lebanon. It was Linda’s third birthday and she thought the whole party was for her.
They had three children together, Dianne, Brian and Gilbert. They all survived the 4H clubs, school, Christmas programs, fishing, water and snow skiing, hunting, backpacking in the mountains, broken bones and teeth and assorted other bruises and scrapes and wound up with just two people, a dog and two cats in a four-bedroom house full of memories and old clothes.
Except for a year in Lebanon and five years on the Mount Hope Road, they lived on the property they bought in 1951 on Berlin Road, east of Lebanon, first in a truck garage, converted almost into a house, and then in the home they had built in 1959. After a brief stab at raising livestock, during which he learned why the man who had owned the farm sold it, Gene spent his time developing the property into a tree farm, planting and nurturing trees, and harvesting timber for as long as he was able.
Gene’s lifelong career began in his junior year of high school when he started work at Hobbs Machine Works under the Trade and Industry program, going to school in the morning and working in the afternoon. He continued to work there full time after graduating. When the Hobbs brothers split up the business in 1954, he continued to work for Richard Hobbs at the sprocket and gear division they created, which was named Linn Gear Co.
In 1965, Gene left Linn Gear, and with some relatives and friends as stockholders, started a new company and built a plant on Hansard Avenue in northwest Lebanon. Later that year, on learning that Mr. Hobbs was trying to sell Linn Gear Co. he contacted him, and an agreement was reached to buy it. They operated at both locations until an addition at the Hansard plant allowed everything to be consolidated there.
Over the years, a nationwide network of distributors was developed, new products were added, the plant was expanded several times and modern machine tools were purchased. Gene retired at the end of 1997, but the company has continued as one of only four surviving competitors in a field that had dozens 43 years earlier.
Due to a lot of hard work by family members and other dedicated employees, the company has continued to thrive. Today the company Gene helped found continues to invest in the best equipment, its fine employees and our great community.
Gene was a joiner and he participated in the things he joined. He served as president and most of the other offices of the Linn County Farm Bureau, the Linn County Small Woodlands Association, the Lebanon Toastmasters, and Lions Clubs. He spent 12 years on the Hamilton Creek School Board during the time the five rural districts were consolidated, and the new school was built.
He was also an officer of the Lebanon Elks Lodge for 12 years, including being Exalted Ruler in 1970-71, where he spearheaded the addition of the grand ballroom to the lodge, providing a much-needed facility for the community.
He served on the board of directors of the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Development Corporation, Lebanon Community Hospital and the Library Senior Center Trust. He was also a past president and served on the board of directors of the United Metal Trades Association for many years.
Through his company membership, he participated in the activities of the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Gear Manufacturers Association, the Power Transmission Distributors Association and the Western Association of Industrial Distributors.
Gene and Jeannette practiced a quiet sort of philanthropy, generously contributing not only time and effort to the Lebanon Senior Center and Public Library, and also to the Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Santiam, to name just a few, as well as creating a perpetual scholarship fund for Lebanon grads.
In 2014, in recognition of his lifetime of achievement, Gene was inducted into the Lebanon High School Hall of Fame, honoring not only his business and professional accomplishments but also his humanitarian and community contributions.
Jeannette passed away on February 17, 2016, just 2 months short of their 66th wedding anniversary. Including the two years spent courting before their marriage, they had their love together for 68 years. She earned the respect and affection of the people who knew her, and this goodwill added a great deal to their partnership in life and building their business. She left a gaping hole in the lives of many, with only fond memories filling the void.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Ora; five siblings; and his much-adored wife Jeannette.
He is survived by son Larry Jones and wife Judy, son Garry Jones and wife Kitty, daughter Linda Armstrong and husband Bob, daughter Dianne Hartl and partner Ike, son Brian Hartl and wife Kay, son Gil Hartl and husband David Wing, along with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; a few great-great-grandchildren; and a long list of inspired friends.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 29, at the Lebanon First United Methodist Church. Private burial will be at the Lebanon IOOF Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Santiam and sent in care of Huston-Jost Funeral Home, 86 W. Grant St., Lebanon, OR 97355.