Closing Comments
by Jillian Merritt

(Gene's granddaughter)

For those of you that don’t know me, I am Gene’s granddaughter Jillian. And my middle name is actually Gene—spelled the same way. In addition to sharing a name, we have always had a close relationship. I remember countless conversations we had over the years—talking about everything from history to politics to the existence of aliens.

I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with him this past summer when I was interning in San Antonio and living in Poth with my Uncle Clay and grandpa. Almost everyday after work, I would go over to his place for dinner and he would tell me stories and give great advice. I would like to share with you all some of my favorite lessons I’ve learned from my grandpa over the years… (some of these are even direct quotes I had written down).

Lesson number 1: Keep exploring! My grandpa visited us when we lived in Canada, Kuwait, and the UK, and most recently we went on a family trip to Alaska in 2019. I once asked him what was on his bucket list, and he responded, “there isn’t a bucket big enough.”

Lesson number 2: There is no such thing as trash, only treasures. He kept everything, because, in his words, “you never know when you might need it.”

Lesson number 3: Aliens exist. But really, he taught me to keep an open mind, especially regarding things you don’t know much about. He always told me, “we know so much and yet so little.”

Lesson number 4: Appreciate nature. One of his favorite spots was sitting out on the deck at our place in Truckee or watching the birds in his backyard in Poth. He said, “nature is my church.”

Lesson number 5: Don’t take your days for granted. I truly believe my grandpa lived his life to the fullest. He told me once, “you don’t get today back again.”

On behalf of my mom, Uncle Clay, and our whole family, thank you all for being here to remember my grandpa Gene Maeckel. Please help yourself to snacks and refreshments, and don’t forget to take some Gene-themed cookies before you leave.


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