1937 – 2022

With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of our dad, Gene Gregory Schoonveld.

He was born to Herman & Eleanor Schoonveld on their kitchen table in Cheyenne, Wyoming on September 23rd, 1937, and passed away exactly 85 years later at his Fort Collins home where he had raised his family and resided for more than 50 years.

Gene spent his childhood years in Evergreen Park, Illinois and his adolescence in Aurora, Colorado where he developed his life-long love of hunting, fishing, traipsing through the mountains, and all things great outdoors. He was a star wrestler in high school, where he also became fast friends with a group of young men (and eventually all of their wives). This rowdy group of guys called themselves the Dingleberries. They remained close and created memories together throughout their lifetimes.

After high school Gene attended Emily Griffith Technical College where he earned his airplane mechanics license, a skill he utilized to put himself through college by following in his father’s footsteps and working as an aircraft mechanic for United and Frontier Airlines. He earned his BS in Business Administration from DU in 1960. Following graduation Gene joined the US Navy, receiving his commission as an Ensign through Officer Candidate School (OCS). He spent 2 years as an officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, followed by 2 years stationed in Oahu, Hawaii. Though he worked for the Fleet Operations Control Center, he claimed his job title with the Navy in Hawaii was the Recreation Officer. He said he was charged with ensuring the sailors were well entertained while they were on shore leave. It’s unclear as to whether Recreation Officer was his actual job title, but we’re super certain he excelled at these duties.

He was married in 1963 and honorably discharged from the US Navy in 1964, after which they moved to Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, where he worked as a district manager for General Motors. They returned to Colorado in 1967 where Gene earned his Masters Degree in Animal Physiology and Nutrition from CSU. Following grad school, he was employed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks & Wildlife) as the Regional Wildlife Manager for Northeastern Colorado for 32 years until his retirement in 2003. In this role, he researched big horn sheep, mule deer, mountain goats, elk – all the various Colorado critters. He helped relocate the wood duck, river otter, lynx, and wild turkey to the state. Most notably, he played a vital role in reintroducing moose to the North Park region in 1978. When we see these majestic creatures roaming the Colorado Rockies, we will forever think of our father and one of his greatest legacies.

Never one to ever sit still, Gene stayed very busy in retirement. He fully rebuilt and restored a 1956 Chevrolet Belair convertible and a 1953 MG TD (with some help. And a lot of blood, sweat and tears. And profanity); he served on the board of directors of Child’s Wish, where he escorted terminally ill children on their “last wish” hunting and fishing trips. He organized and detailed these events from top to bottom and embarked on more than 15 (often heartbreaking) trips; he enjoyed multiple fishing adventures in beautiful Bamfield, British Columbia; he planted and tended his expansive fruit, flower, and vegetable gardens where he proudly cultivated so much to share, and so much more to pickle and can each year; he mastered the art of baking perfect pies; he did a LOT of grandkid babysitting, complete with diaper changes and endless PB&J’s; and hauled all of his grandkids back and forth to his lake house in Nebraska to share with them his love of boats and water and instigating all of the trouble he could get into with the boats and the water and the grandkids.

He is survived by his three children: Bradley Schoonveld (married to: Melinda Sharkey), Teri Greiman (married to: Chad Greiman), and Tricia Burton (married to: Brian Burton), and his seven beloved grandchildren: Andrew & Kathleen Schoonveld, Delaynie, Destrie, & Teagen Greiman, and Tanner & Ainsley Burton. He also survived by his younger sister Arlene Smith, and his kids’ mom, Joan Schoonveld, who he remained close with.
We will miss him every single day.
Services were held in his honor on Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 1:00 at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 1200 S. Taft Hill Road, Fort Collins, Colorado.