Gene was born April 23, 1923 in Matherville, IL, the son of Helger B. “Nig” and Opal F. Peterson Carlson. He attended grade school in Galesburg and Andover and graduated from Orion High School in 1941. He excelled in football to help the team win its second straight undefeated season placing him on the second ALL STATE team. He also played on the basketball team that advanced into the State Sectional.
He was employed by the Minneapolis-Moline Implement Co. in 1941 until the outbreak of World War II, when Gene enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After 11 months of training, he received his wings and Ensign Commission at Pensacola, FL. Gene flew off of aircraft carriers in the Pacific for 67 combat missions over Palau, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima, earning the Air Medal. While flying over the dark Pacific, at midnight, Gene made a covenant with his God to get him home safely, and he would serve Him, which he did faithfully. His marriage to Olive Belle Carlson took place on May 26, 1946, in the Cambridge Lutheran Church. She passed away on October 29, 2009.
The couple operated Carlson’s Grocery in Andover for 27 years. He was the Andover Postmaster for 39 years, a fireman for 26 years, and a Little League coach the years their sons played. He was on the Andover Swedes team and was an avid St. Louis Cardinal fan. Gene helped start the Andover Water Association, was a Vice President of the National League of Postmasters, and was chosen “Postmaster of the Year in Illinois” in 1982.
Gene loved his church, serving as a deacon on the Church Board for six years, teaching Sunday School for ten years, put up balcony railings, set up flags on holidays, gave many temples talks, and sang in the choir as a teenager. Gene was the Andover American Legion Post #465 Commander, Adjutant, and Chaplain. At funerals, he folded the flag for dozens of his departed comrades. His hobbies included photography, wood working, and stained glass. Gene was a “ham” Amateur Radio Operator with the call sign K9PXC. Those surviving are a daughter and son-in-law, Judy and Robert Meirhaeghe, Orion, two sons and a daughter-in-law, Roger and Nancy Carlson, Osco, and Michael Carlson, O’Fallon, MO, six grandchildren, Deena (Rob) Beck, Lisa Meirhaeghe, Joshua (Beth) Carlson, Ryan (Mallory) Carlson, Seth Carlson, and Meghan (Jason) Brandau, and 13 great grandchildren. His parents, his wife, a brother, LeRoy Carlson, and a great granddaughter, Erica, preceded him in death