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Eugene Clurrel Matchett, 81

| June 18, 2010 5:10 AM

Eugene Clurrel Matchett, 81, Coeur d’Alene, died at home Tuesday, June 15, 2010, after a five-month battle with mesothelioma. His death came only two days after his 57th wedding anniversary.

He was born July 30, 1928, in Butternut, Wisc., to Richard Matchett and Ruth Buckingham. He later moved to Klamath Falls, Ore., with his mother and stepfather, Joseph Heiderer. Following high school, he began one of the proudest times he’d know when he served his country by joining the military. With tours in both the Navy and Army, he served in the later part of World War II and the Korean War. Afterward, he began his collegiate career at the University of Oregon before transferring to and then graduating from Oregon Technical Institute in 1959, becoming the family’s first college graduate — a distinction of honor and pride for him.

On June 13, 1953, he married the greatest love he’d ever known, Shirley Ellen Slowey. Through their loving union, five children were born. His wife and children were the center of his life. They moved to Coeur d’Alene in 1972 where he opened his own gunsmithing business, Gene’s Gun Shop. After a career in the gun business and lumber industry, he retired with his wife on their 10 acres outside Coeur d’Alene. Their house became the center of all family gatherings and a never-ending project for him.

He enjoyed living away from the city, surrounded by trees and wildlife. Between growing tomato gardens, designing and building custom cedar chests for his wife, daughters and granddaughters, he spent much of his time teaching those around him. For some, it was learning how to bake Grandpa’s french bread and baguettes, making sausage or growing tomatoes. He shared his love for cooking with anyone who offered a moment or a taste test. Still for others, his craftsmanship in the garage presented lessons in building anything from wooden decks to kitchen shelves, plant stands made of PVC pipe to hand-carved custom gun stocks. He custom made child-sized .22 caliber rifles for his children, and made sure everyone was safely skilled at using them.

Eugene never stopped learning. As he grew older, so did his hunger for continued education: Whether it was a different bread recipe or a new use for an old object, he continually sketched plans for many inventions. Meanwhile, his love of nature never diminished, as he constantly spent time on the deck he built overlooking their property, listening to the creek, spotting deer, elk, moose, bear and the squirrels who seemingly loved to tease him. However, the fondest memory most will share is his unforgettable sense of humor. The quick wit and well-timed anecdotes he seemed to pepper at will were both hallmark in his endearing character. What’s more, the clever responses and hilarious caveats he would so eloquently present became sentiments shared by all; these “Eugisms” have been passed not just through family ties, but also through anybody who ever met him.

He is survived by his wife at home, Shirley Matchett; his five children, Cheryl Matchett and Rod Matchett, Coeur d’Alene; Susan Matchett, Denver, Colo.; Cindy Matchett, Eugene, Ore.; Karen Setzer, Spokane; two sisters, Delores Dunlap and June Allers, Klamath Falls, Ore.; sister-in-law Louise Heiderer, Klamath Falls; his 13 grandchildren, Jon Holmes, Springfield, Ore.; Lisa Kirking, Coeur d’Alene; Gene Matchett, Hayden Lake; Tausha Winey, Hayden; Courtney Ray, Placerville, Calif.; Jake Donahue, Portland, Ore.; Emily Donahue, Post Falls; Meghan Setzer, Spokane; Abby Donahue and Audrey Donahue, Eugene, Ore.; Zach Matchett, Coeur d’Alene; Wade Setzer and Wyatt Setzer, Spokane; and 10 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his beloved grandmother, Rose Buckingham; his best friend and brother, Jack Heiderer; his mother, father and stepfather.

A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, June 21, 2010, at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Coeur d’Alene with burial to follow at St. Thomas Cemetery. A viewing will be held from 4-6 p.m. Saturday, June 19, 2010, at English Funeral Chapel, 1133 N. Fourth St., Coeur d’Alene.

The family would love to express their sincere thanks to Christie, Todd, Amy and everyone else at Hospice of North Idaho whose assistance and support allowed us to care for our father at home. We would also like to thank Dr. Iacoboni and the nurses from the Oncology Dept. of Kootenai Medical Center. Their dedication to the final months of Gene’s life is something the family will always cherish; their heartwarming care was indeed inspiring and comforting.

Donations may be made in Eugene’s name to Hospice of North Idaho.

Angels come to everybody sometime in their life. Mine came to me in my children and my wife.”

- Eugene Matchett, 2010

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