Eugene Mario PecchiaFebruary 17, 1934 ~ September 19, 2017 (age 83)
Eugene M. Pecchia passed away peacefully on September 19th, 2017. He was 83. Gene was born on February 17, 1934 to Angelo and Regina Pecchia. He grew up in Eatonville, WA. During his childhood, he was the self-proclaimed class clown, he enjoyed playing sports, and dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot. So great was his resolve, he could legally fly a plane before he could drive. He graduated from Eatonville H.S. in 1952 and went on to attend Seattle University. However, he continued to pursue his passion by enlisting in the United States Air Force and became a fighter pilot. After joining the Air Force and while serving in Moses Lake, WA he met his wife, Emma, an Air Force nurse. They were married for 59 years. Once married, they lived in and traveled to many different places from England to South Carolina, and back to Washington.
Gene served his country with courage and honor for over 20 years as a fighter pilot. He flew 140 combat missions during his two tours in the Vietnam War. Gene earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for demonstrating “exemplary courage and outstanding aerial skill” in completing a mission over North Vietnam on September 21st, 1966. Following his time in the Air Force, he joined the Air National Guard in Spokane WA, where he could focus on being both a pilot and a very present father to his four children. On one occasion serving in the Air Guard, he was honored in the Spokane Newspaper for guiding a lost private pilot to the airport on a dark, cloudy night. And on another, he volunteered to make an urgent delivery of a respirator needed for a baby in Oregon. Being the fighter pilot he was, it took him just ten minutes to deliver it from Geiger Field to Portland!
Over the years, Gene pursued many passions and hobbies in his usual persistent manner. He achieved a business degree while raising his children and working. Following his career, he maintained his passion for flight by flying his own airplane for 30 years. He was up for trying anything at least once and could never be found sitting still for long. Gene even asked his mother-in-law to teach him to crochet, and he created many beautiful afghans. He enjoyed huckleberry picking and knew all of the best spots to find the best berries. He loved to make his signature huckleberry pie, always striving to strike the perfect balance between tart and sweet. Each attempt was his own personal experiment, with his family being his taste-testers and the grandkids his occasional assistants. Gene’s had several other hobbies and enjoyed all things outdoors, especially golf! He will be greatly missed by his many friends and family.
Gene is survived by his loving wife, Emma; sons Greg (Trudy) and David (Vaishali); daughters Carol and Mary (Rob); 8 grandchildren.