Eugene (Gene) Crist was born on October 1, 1930 and died peacefully in his sleep on April 26, 2021. Gene was born and grew up in Prescott, Wisconsin. His high school yearbook is full of pictures of him on the basketball court and inscriptions to “Rabbit.” (He was apparently known for his speed.)
Gene’s work in sales brought him to Wichita, Kansas, where his roommate set him up on a blind date with a lively and beautiful nurse anesthetist named Jan. The couple quickly fell in love, got married and had two daughters. Their love story lasted for 62 years.
In 1971, the family moved to Panama City, where Gene co-founded Hygroponics, Inc. The company manufactured greenhouse systems and obtained several trademarks and patents for its processes relating to growing plants without soil. This approach made Hygroponics’ greenhouses an attractive product in international locations, including Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
Gene was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce. He served as President of the Chamber in 1982 and became the head of the Military Affairs Committee the following year. One of his most exciting experiences was flying in an F14 fighter jet with one of his Eglin buddies.
Gene also served as Commodore of the St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club. Club membership was opened to women when Gene was at the helm.
Gene’s later work life included a 14 year stint as Assistant Supervisor of Elections for Bay County. He was proud of his service to the community.
Gene will be remembered for his kind manner and warm smile. He was a caring husband, father and grandfather. He was dearly loved and will be deeply missed.
Gene is preceded in death by his wife Jan. He is survived by his daughters Nanette Crist and Suzanne Peterson, his son-in-law Tim Peterson, his grandchildren TJ, Drew and Elizabeth Peterson and his granddog Jakie.
A small interment ceremony to celebrate Gene’s life will be held on a future date at Kent-Forest Lawn. Donations in Gene’s memory can be made to the Tidewell Foundation in Sarasota in appreciation for the hospice services provided to Gene at the end of his life.
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