Gene “Cucumber” McCumber died Thursday, March 7, 2019.
He was a son, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather, as well as a career-driven oilfield worker. “Cucumber” was his nickname and the search for getting oil out of the ground was his game.
Gene was born at home in Cody to Faye Eugene McCumber of Thermopolis and Irene Allen McCumber of Cody. Gene was the oldest of six children. Marla (Kenneth Strom), Allen (Fran Blakesley), Millie (William Keller), and Paul (Gloria) preceded him in death. His youngest sister Wyoma (Dwayne Pearson) resides in Cody.
Gene lived the first 22 years of his life in Cody. He met his first wife, Oriole Joanne Schrader at Cody High School. They rode the bus to school together and love blossomed.
Sergeant Gene McCumber entered the army right after finishing high school. He served in the Army National Guard’s 300th Armored Field Artillery Battalion nicknamed the “Cowboy Cannoneers.” Gene was deployed to Korea to fight for the freedom of our United States. His hand and wrist were crushed by a large cog mechanism on a battle tank.
After his hand healed, he was assigned to desk duty in the Adjutant General’s Corp at Headquarters Eighth U. S. Army in Korea. As senior non-commissioned officer, it was his responsibility to maintain a constant exchange of rotation and replacement personnel in the combat zone.
He received a Commendation Medal for his meritorious service in this office. After Gene’s discharge, he returned to Cody, where he started working in the oil field.
In January of 1953, he married Oriole Joanne Schrader. They had three children, Vernon “Butch” (Carolyn Bennett-preceded him in death), John (Terri Mulberry), and daughter Jody Blair. Gene traveled from oilfield to oilfield moving his family to seven states over approximately 30 re-locations.
Cucumber’s expertise made it possible for him to help make a breakthrough in unique drilling techniques. He helped invent the “packer” which was utilized in stabilizing formations in the hole being drilled. The packer was locked in place so the oil could “flow.”
The Unisys Packer was his unique design. Eugene was very active in the IOOF, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His faithful service of 65 years was of great reward to him as he served others through the organization.
His first wife, Oriole Joanne preceded him in death in 1972. Gene then married Rosa Lee Beeman. Gene has four step-daughters Norma (Donald Sams), Theresa (Chris Lefiaspe), Becky (Phil Forrest), and Lori Vann and two stepsons, Roger Scales, who preceded him in death, and Sam Beeman through Rosa Lee, who preceded him in death in 2011.
He then married his third love who survives him, Bobbie Blalock McCumber. There are two stepsons Mark (Marilyn) Billings and Terry Billings, through Bobbie and one stepdaughter, Shelley Billings, who preceded Gene in death.
Gene was known as “Pappy” by his numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
Eugene’s interment will be handled by Myers & Smith Funeral Home of Big Spring, Texas, and Ballard Funeral Home of Cody.
A Celebration of Life Service for Gene will be held at Ballard Funeral Home in Cody on May 17, 2019 at 11 a.m. with burial to follow at Riverside Cemetery.