Gene Drew

Gene Drew Gene Drew, loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend was welcomed into the loving arms of his Heavenly Father, Monday, Jan. 7, after a long and heroic battle against cancer.

Funeral services were held at Immanuel Christian School Worship Center on Friday, Jan. 11, officiated by Pastor Bill Logan.

Gene was born Aug. 3, 1928, in Eudora, Mo., and came to California with his parents at an early age, settling in Ventura.

When Gene was 17, according to his story, he lied about his age to join the Marines to fight in the Great War, during which time he earned the WWII Service Medal.

He was later sent to Korea, serving as an artilleryman and forward observer. Upon returning home, he worked as a reserve police officer and mail carrier in Ventura.

In 1953 he enrolled in Northrop Aeronautical Institute, located in Inglewood. At this time he met his future wife, Helen Carlson, at Ventura First Baptist Church. They were married Oct. 22, 1955, at Baldwin Hills Baptist Church in Inglewood.

Following graduation in early 1957, he and his young family moved to southern Utah, where he was employed by Coleman Engineering, in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force, developing escape systems.

Later the family moved to Redlands, where Gene worked for Grand Central Rocket Co. (later Lockheed Aviation). In 1960 he joined the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, where he attained the rank of lieutenant. He served his country in this capacity for approximately 10 years.

In May 1962, following the birth of their third daughter, the Drews moved here, where Gene worked for the Naval Ordnance Test Station at the SNORT track.

He was offered a transfer to the Naval Station near El Centro, where he again worked with escape systems, especially parachute design. When the Parachute Division was transferred to China Lake, the family moved in 1979 to their present home in Ridgecrest. He retired from China Lake in 1989.

Gene was an avid hunter — deer hunting in Utah and bird hunting in the Imperial Valley, along with his dog, Fritz. He also spent many Saturdays riding his dirt bike in the desert.

While living in both El Centro and Ridgecrest, Gene actively pursued his hobby of painting in watercolors — usually early Americana and Western art. Another hobby he enjoyed was building and flying radio-control model airplanes.

Gene was an active member of Immanuel Baptist Church and enjoyed spending time visiting with his many friends. During the last year of his life, he always looked forward to the weekly “home visits” from members of the congregation.

He will be remembered for his warm heart and his ready smile. He was deeply loved by his family, and the girls have many happy memories of summer vacations, especially those at Oak Creek Canyon, Ariz.

Of course, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remember “ice cream with Popo” as the sweetest moments of their lives.

Gene was preceded in death by his parents Charles and Esther Barclay Drew and his sister, Peggy Katherine Crawford.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Helen Carlson Drew; daughters Nancy Botelho and husband Julius (Hap) of Redlands, Catherine Drew of El Centro and Laura Osborne of Ridgecrest.

He is also survived by his eight grandchildren, Sarah Shiner, Emily Hughes (Nick), Michael Norris, Matthew Norris (Takara), Eli Moreno-Drew, Ariana Moreno-Drew, Drew Heinlein and Elizabeth Osborne. Two nephews, Stephen Crawford and Michael Crawford, both of Fillmore; and seven great-grandchildren also survive Gene.

We miss you dear husband, daddy and Popo, but rejoice that you are in Heaven with the Lord and are free of all pain.

Burial service will be at Riverside National Cemetery at a later date.

Submitted by the family of Gene Drew.

Story First Published: 2013-01-16