Gene Hancer, 89, of Sioux City passed away peacefully on June 17th, 2023, surrounded by his loving family. A Celebration of Life and Memorial service will be held at Meyer Brothers Colonial Chapel on July 8th at 11:00 am, with visitation beginning at 10:00 am.
Gene was born on April 7th, 1934, to James and Kathryn (Sorensen) Hancer in Gregory, SD. He grew up in Sioux City and attended Bishop Heelan High School, graduating in 1953. Gene was a longtime member of St. Joseph Catholic Church.
He served in the Army during the Korean Conflict from 1953 - 1955. Upon his return to Sioux City in 1956, he enrolled in AWI Architectural Woodwork Institute of Chicago, took night classes, and began working as an apprentice at National Woodworks. He also joined the local Carpenters Union 948 receiving his 50 year gold card in 2006 and was a member of the Siouxland Woodworkers Club. He belonged to the Siouxland Antique Car Club and served as treasurer for over 40 years. He loved to show off his car collection and was always game for taking anyone on a joy ride. He was also an avid collector of many other types of antiques.
1956 was a busy year for Gene as he also married the love of his life, Devonna Calhoun, on June 22nd. He always called her his bride and never missed a day in telling her how beautiful she is. Gene passed away just a few days before what would have been their 67th wedding anniversary.
In 1970, Gene ventured out on his own and opened Gene’s Cabinet Shop. This beganthe most rewarding aspect of his life. He was a Master Craftsman of his trade, producing custom and heirloom furniture, with many one-of-a-kind pieces. He designed and built cabinetry, grandfather clocks, and countless other unique items that will be treasured for many generations by the families that own them. He was also talented in refinishing antique pieces.
One of Gene’s friends and biggest fan was Irving Jensen Jr. who commissioned him to build not only personal family pieces, but opened the doors for him to be commissioned for work by many other prominent community members locally and across the United States. He was also asked to be a part
of the Orpheum Theater restoration project, where he was instrumental in the restoration process, while also building and carving the lectern. Some of his other works of artistry include the grandfather clock that is displayed at Unity Point and other special keepsakes within multiple homes in Siouxland, as well as bed and breakfasts around the United States.
Gene noted to those around him that his greatest accomplishment in work was when he was commissioned by Randall Lloyd, an architect working on a project at the Church of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, Missouri. Gene designed and built around the Gothic design of the church. Due to the high-level of craftsmanship from all those participating in the project, Lloyd subsequently published a book highlighting the beautiful work completed, including Gene’s work. This book now sits in the Smithsonian Institute.
He never really retired, still working on a project up to this last year and carving a walking stick just recently. He has been featured in many local news articles in the Journal and had pictures of his work featured in the Memories of Sioux City pictorial books.
Gene was a strong, proud, and very talented man. Family was of utmost importance to him. He found great joy in all of us being together. He was fun and adventurous, always teaching a life lesson along the way. He loved to travel and took his family and grandchildren on vacations throughout his lifetime.
Oh, the wonderful places we were able to see.
Gene was also a Dad to all neighborhood kids and friends. Building and flying kites, camping, and fishing, riding mini motor bikes and making his famous ice cream malts. He never blinked an eye as to how many were there. He always said the more the merrier.
Gene was rarely seen without one of his Stetson hats and loved the conversations that were brought about by wearing them. He was a true cowboy at heart.
Left to cherish his memory: his wife of 66 years, Devonna Hancer, daughter Kellie and (Rick) Zvirgzdinas, and their children: Adrienne and (Mark) Stevens, Dustin and (Ashley Meyer) Hahn. Son Mark and (Julie) Hancer and their children: Jade, Teleah, Ian and Connor and (Jatziri) Hancer. Great Grandchildren: Isabel Libke, and Josephine and Luke Hahn and Hannah Stevens. A very special person and family friend who he considered to be his second son, Randy Best.
Preceded in death by: Father James Hancer and Mother Kathryn Hendriks. Brothers James and William.
We would like to thank Gene’s doctors for all the wonderful care he received through the years from Dr. Larry Sellers and Dr. Ashar Luqman.
We also want to acknowledge Jennifer Johnson NP, and the staff at Holy Spirit and Hospice of Siouxland for the wonderful care in Gene’s final days.
He will be greatly missed and forever in our hearts. We are certain that he is busy designing and building a magnificent bench for the Lord and others to sit on in heaven.
In lieu of flowers we would ask that you donate or make a contribution to the Food Bank of Siouxland.