Dr Eugene E. Houk, 1934 – 2018

A celebration of the life of Dr Eugene E. Houk, 84, of Jefferson was held May 21 at First United Methodist Church in Jefferson.

Words of comfort were offered by the Rev Julie Poulsen, pastor of the church. Gary Haupert was soloist, accompanied by Sheryl Sloan.

Interment was at the Jefferson Municipal Cemetery with military honors by a U.S. Navy honor guard.

Dr. Eugene E. Houk passed away May 16, 2018, in Jefferson. Gene, as he was fondly known, was born April 23, 1934, to L. Rex Houk and Vera Rowe Houk in a small wooden frame farm house on the south side of a dirt road that marked the boundary between Iowa and Missouri. In due time, he was joined by seven sisters and two brothers. As the family grew, they relocated to Taylor County, where Gene attended grade school and graduated from Bedford High School in 1952.

In the fall of 1952 Gene started college at the University of Iowa. He enrolled in the Naval ROTC program and by the third year of college he had developed a career path but had an important decision to make. In one hand he had his acceptance in the US Navy for pilot training in Florida and in the other was acceptance into dental school. Because he preferred an independent life style he chose dentistry. Gene worked his way through college by working various campus jobs as well as farm work during the summer.

It was while he was working at the University of Iowa Hospital that he met a young nurse, Carolyn Rigler. They married in 1958. After graduation from dental school in 1959 the couple moved to the Great Lakes Naval Station where Gene served as a second lieutenant in the dental corp. After his honorable discharge in 1961 they moved to Jefferson where he opened an office and practiced dentistry for 33 years.

Gene volunteered countless hours over the years to many groups in the community and to his profession. He was proud to serve as president of the Jefferson Lions Club, Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, Greene County Historical Society, Greenewood Homes, Inc. (provided low cost housing for the elderly) and Greenewood Homes (built the community center). He served on the board of trustees of Brenton Bank, Greene County Medical Center, and Greene County Medical Center Foundation. Because of his interest in flying, he served on the Jefferson Airport Commission.

A short list of his service to his professional organizations are as follows: Board member of Delta Dental Plans of Iowa (chairman of board for eight years), and State Board of Dental Examiners (chairman for eight years). During that time he was responsible for giving examinations for licensure for graduating dental students in various schools in the Midwest.

Because of his untiring efforts and leadership skills, he was recognized and awarded not only by his peers but also in his community. In 1966 he was given the Iowa Jaycees state distinguished service award. He received the ABC award for his volunteer efforts locally. Professionally he was honored to have received the Citizen of the Year award from the American Association of Dental Examiners as well as the President’s award of the American Dental Association.

Gene had interests that were wide and varied. His favorite was in the field of aviation. He was an instrument rated pilot and flew his Bonanza for over 40 years.

In 1961, shortly after their move to Jefferson, Gene and Carolyn joined the First United Methodist Church where they were faithful members. Gene was a Mason and a Shriner.
Gene was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that ultimately took his life. Even though his physical activities were limited, he retained his kind, loving, witty demeanor. He was known for his level-headed intelligence, honesty and being a tireless worker.

Preceding him in death are his parents. He will be lovingly remembered by his wife Carolyn; his siblings Nadine (Ray) Stanley, Sarah Hamilton, Helen (Norman) Gilleland, Joan Butler, Betty (Charles) Bailey, Rex (JoAnna) Houk, Mary (Lance) Steinbock, Patricia (Stuart) White, and Ellis (Gayle) Houk; nieces, nephews and cousins; and many loyal friends.
Gene would be honored to be remembered with memorials designated to the building project for the future Greene County Animal Facility.
Services by Slininger-Schroeder Funeral Home, Jefferson.

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