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ROCKY HILL, Conn. — Merle Gene Massey, 79, Rocky Hill, Conn., formerly of Wethersfield, Conn., died Thursday (April 28, 2011) in Hartford, Conn. 

His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Bethany Lutheran Church, West Hartford, Conn. Burial will be private. Calling hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Sheehan-Hilborn-Breen Funeral Home, West Hartford, Conn.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Gene’s memory to Bethany Lutheran Church, 1655 Boulevard, West Hartford, CT 06107.

Gene was born Feb. 12, 1932, in Peoria. He is survived by his best friend and the longtime love of his life, Elaine M. Gottel Massey. Gene and Elaine became sweethearts in grade school in El Paso. They were married on New Year’s Day in 1953, which coincided with the 25th wedding anniversary of Elaine’s parents, Alina and Arnold Gottel. Gene and Elaine joyously celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary this past January. “All because two people fell in love” ... The Massey Family came to be.

Gene was a true family man and raised his family to be close and loving with each other. His legacy will live on through his children and grandchildren who loved him and will miss him dearly.

Gene is also survived by his children, Brenda Massey (Peter Sr.) Foxen and Lori Massey (Mark) Littmann, both of Rocky Hill, Conn.; Beth Massey (Jim) Scully and Bruce (Beth O’Brien) Massey, both of West Hartford, Conn.; and his grandchildren, Peter Jr., Abigail and Christian Foxen; Laura, Jenna, Tyler and Marisa Littmann; James and Aidan Scully; and Erin, Rachel and Joshua Massey.

Gene was predeceased by his parents and brother, Paul, and leaves behind his two sisters, Carol (Roger) Ball and Karen (David) Porter; a sister-in-law, Carol Smoots; and a niece and two nephews.

Gene graduated from El Paso High School in 1950. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Monrovia until 1954. He attended DeVry in Chicago. He owned and operated a television sales and service business in Gridley. Gene then became employed with General Electric Co. He worked in the Design Evaluation Lab in Bloomington, later became manager of shop operations. In 1970, he moved to Avon Lake, Ohio, and ran the GE Manufacturing Operations for five years. In 1974, Gene came to the Plainville, Conn., plant as manager of quality control and manufacturing operations. He retired in 1994 from GE after a 35-year career.

Throughout his life Gene had a strong faith in his Lord. He was a member of the Lutheran Layman’s League and choir at Trinity Lutheran Church, El Paso, in addition to serving as president of the congregation and superintendent of Sunday school. Gene was an active member of Bethany Lutheran Church in West Hartford since 1975, and served for many years as lay minister and member of the chancel choir. In his earlier years, Gene was a HAM radio operator and he acquired his first class radio operator’s license while in El Paso. In recent years, Gene’s interest in communication turned to the Internet, where he frequently shared jokes and interesting stories with family and friends.

Gene had an interest in aviation and earned his private pilot’s license in Ohio. Gene was a skilled handyman, building his first home in Illinois in his spare time. Not one to sit idly by, Gene was always helping his children and grandchildren with different projects. He willingly and generously shared his time and talents with others. Gene enjoyed family outings, whether it was camping, skiing, boating, going on special vacations with family and friends or traveling home to Illinois for reunions. Golfing was another passion of Gene’s.

Gene lived his life well. All those who knew and loved him will keep Gene in their hearts forever.

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