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Eugene "Gene" J. Laughlin

Eugene  Professor, philanthropist, family patriarch, life-partner and friend set sail on his final voyage Sunday October 7, 2018 after a brief illness at the age of 89.

Eugene ‘Gene’ Joseph Laughlin was born in Kansas City, MO on December 4, 1928 to William P. and Mary Frances (McCready) Laughlin, He was preceded in death by an older brother, William F. and a younger brother James P. and two younger sisters, Mary Joann Young and Patricia Marie Schroeger. He is survived by his lifetime partner of 60 years, Dr. Verlyn Richards.

Gene attended Catholic schools in Kansas City. His fondest memories of his school days were his participation in the high school musicals. A family friend operated a dance studio where he learned tap and ballroom dancing and brought his dancing to the high school musicals. He maintained a lifelong interest in dancing and loved to dance with his nieces, great nieces and even great-great niece at the wedding receptions. He loved to recall how embarrassed he was as a rather shy sixteen-year-old boy, to have the only pregnant mother at his high school graduation. His youngest sister, Patty was born the following 4th of July.

After graduation Gene attended Kansas City Junior College while working at Manor Bakery. He fondly remembered walking home from the bakery for lunch with his beloved grandmother, Nanny McCready and helping care for his little sister, Patty. He would gladly walk Patty back and forth to school. These experiences left him with a lifelong attachment to small children. He loved to hold the babies and play with the toddlers.

Gene was forced to lay out from the junior college for a year while he worked full time to help care for his ailing father. He then returned to Rockhurst College for the last two years of his undergraduate education.

After Rockhurst Gene enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was selected for finance schools at Ft. Benjamin Harris in Indianapolis, IN. After finance school Gene was initially assigned to the finance corps in St. Louis and to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey. Gene was always a neat dresser and decided at Camp Kilmer to substitute his formal penny loafers for the regulation Army oxfords. He kept his oxfords in his desk drawer to wear in case the Colonel visited the office. At Camp Kilmer he specialized in processing the frequently disorganized pay records for soldiers returning from their classified positions in Europe. He truly enjoyed this work. His other fond memory of Camp Kilmer was the occasional weekend when he would catch a train to New York to see Broadway performances. In those days, if you wore your uniform the train ride was free, and he would get free performance tickets by going to the theater box office before the shows. He, of course, picked the musicals with lots of dancing. On those weekends when he was broke, he caught the train to Washington DC for a visit with his aunt Loretta and her husband.

After his military service Gene returned to Kansas City in a position with Arthur Anderson and Co. While he was very successful with his public accounting work, he also was considering other career opportunities. When Prof. Bill Clark, from K-State came to the firm for a summer experience, Prof. Clark suggested that Gene come to Manhattan for a teaching position in the department of accounting while he pursued a master’s degree. While in his master’s program, Gene met Verlyn Richards and they began a 60-year loving relationship.

Subsequently, Verlyn and Gene decided to pursue a doctoral program at the University of Illinois. After completing their Ph.D. program, they returned to K-State for 30-year academic careers.

During his academic career, Gene published two undergraduate accounting textbooks, published articles in the professional accounting journal and served as a value editor of professional articles for his academic colleagues. Gene also served for a number of years as the associate dean in the college of business before retiring as professor emeritus for accounting

During the later years of their academic years Gene and Verlyn took up bicycling and began to pursue an active interest in world travel. The did several summer trips to Europe, including a four-month sabbatical.

This evolved into ten two-week elder hostile bike trips in Europe and subsequently eight seven-day bike-across-Kansas at home. With elder hostel they enjoyed a 4-week great Australian train trek followed by another four-week Great New Zealand Train Trek.

Pursuing a somewhat less strenuous travel option they began doing cruise vacations to Alaska, the Caribbean, Hawaiian and the South Pacific, circa navigation of South America to visit the South Pole. The culmination of these voyages was three four-month world cruises.

Gene touched and enriched many lives among his thousands of undergraduate and graduate students he taught and advised.

After retirement, he remained active in the community, volunteering for the annual “Wrap it up” sale at the Manhattan Art Center, served for many years as treasurer on the Board of Directors at McCain auditorium and for the Manhattan Public Library.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, 11 October from 3:00pm-4:30pm. The Funeral will be Friday at 10:30am at the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Eugene J. Laughlin Scholarship. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502.

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