Howard Eugene (Gene) Hite, Sr., beloved father, brother, grandfather, uncle, and friend passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on May 15, 2019, in Long Lake, MN, where he had been living with his son Gene Jr, and daughter-in-law, Barbara.
Gene was born on July 7, 1923, in a rock farmhouse just north of Jerome, Idaho, as the second of Percy James and Jennie Elfreda Johnson Hite’s seven children. A few months after he was born, Gene’s family moved to a farm southwest of Jerome located at 119 Bob Barton Road. After graduating from Jerome High School, Gene married Sylvia Dora Silver on July 7, 1941, and the couple began farming. In 1947, they purchased the farm on which he had grown up.
In addition to farming, Gene formed Hite Construction in 1960. Numerous homes in the Magic Valley were built or remodeled by Gene over the next 46 years.
Adept at working with metal, he built a complete playground set for his children, using parts salvaged from an old windmill. This included a swing set, sky rider, merry-go-round, slide, and teeter-totter. He also constructed a motorized quarter-scale model of an army jeep, which is an operational family keepsake to this day.
An avid outdoor and travel enthusiast, Gene enjoying boating, water skiing, motorcycling, snowmobiling, traveling in the family’s RV, and hunting in Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Missouri, and Wyoming. During his lifetime he and Sylvia traveled to over 60 countries on six continents.
Gene was a past member of the Jerome County Mounted Sheriff’s Posse and the Valley Flying Club. He was an active member of the Jerome Bible Baptist Church where he served as one of its charter members.
In later years, Gene enjoyed spending time working in his wood shop, where he built numerous wooden cedar chests, miniature cupboards, rocking horses, and a miniature dressing table with matching stool for children of family members and friends. Many of these items received blue ribbons at the Jerome County Fair, and a detailed model of the family’s “big red barn”, was awarded Best of Show.
Much of the farm was sold in 1988, but the family home was retained, along with the barn and other buildings, and a few acres of land. Recently, Gene sold the remaining property to a beloved nephew prior to moving to Long Lake, MN.
Gene was preceded in death by the love of his life, Sylvia Dora Silver Hite, his parents, siblings Bernadine Hite Shockley, Gerald Hite, and Donna Hite Ostler, and grandson R. Sean (Rusk) Hite.
Gene is survived by his children Howard Eugene (Gene) Hite, Jr. (Barbara) of Long Lake, Minnesota, Nancy Darlene Hite of Buhl, Idaho, and Donald Dean Hite (Deborah Baldwin-Bonney) of Otis Orchards, Washington, brother Robert Hite (Pat) and brother-in-law Gerald Ostler of Jerome, Idaho, five grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at the Bible Baptist Church at 132 Second Avenue East in Jerome on Monday, June 3. The family will receive friends at the church starting at 10am and the service will begin at 11am, with a lunch following. Graveside services will be held at the convenience of the family after the meal. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Gene’s memory to the Jerome Bible Baptist Church or the Idaho Youth Ranch.
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