Retired USAF Lt. Col. Eugene W. Bendel went home to be with his Lord on Friday, October 23, 2009, following a courageous and miraculous five-and-a-half-year fight against pancreatic cancer.
He was surrounded by Jayne, his loving wife of 48 years; children Greg Bendel and Diane Steele; and members of his church family.
Gene was born on April 16, 1932, and grew up on a dairy farm near Athens, WI. At 19 he joined the Air Force, which defined the rest of his life.
He graduated as a Second Lieutenant from the Air Force Officers Training School at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. From there, he traveled the world as an intelligence officer, meeting his wife Jayne while he was stationed in England.
Gene was a Korean and Vietnam war veteran. Among his awards, two stand out: the Joint Service Commendation Medal from the Commander of the United States Taiwan Defense command and the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service from the President of the United States during the Saigon Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War.
While in the Air Force, Gene completed his degree in general education at the University of Omaha. In 1967 he received his MBA from USC.
After retiring from the Air Force, Gene was the director of human resources for Jet America and later the human resources manager for the law firm of Morrison and Forster before he retired to Fallbrook in 1997.
While in Fallbrook, Gene was very active in the community. He was a member of Christ Church, Fallbrook (Anglican), Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Rotary Club of Fallbrook and the Chamber of Commerce. He was also on the board of directors of the Live Oak Park Coalition.
Gene is survived by his wife, son and daughter and five grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to Christ Church, Fallbrook or The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute for Pancreatic Cancer, 2001 Santa Monica Blvd., Ste. 560W, Santa Monica, CA 90404.
A service of celebration of Gene’s life will be held at Christ Church, Fallbrook, 2000 Reche Road, at 10:30 a.m. Friday, November 6, followed by interment, with military honors, at Riverside National Cemetery