Norbert Gene Wessel



Norbert Gene Wessel, a native of Jackson County, Indiana, died May 29, 2023, at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill. He was 80.

He was born Nov. 13, 1942, in Seymour, Ind., the son of Clarence and Millie Wessel, who preceded him in death.

While growing up in Indiana, he was known as Norbie or Norb, but throughout his adult years, he went by Gene. As a boy, he was active in 4-H and the youth group at St. Paul (Wegan) Lutheran Church. He played varsity basketball for three years for Tampico High School and was valedictorian of his graduating class in 1960. He attended Indiana University in Bloomington, and graduated in 1965 with a degree in business.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1969, and was a Vietnam War veteran.

In 1965, he married Karen Greiner and they lived in Western Springs, Ill. They had two daughters, Denise Gale and Kimberly Ann, and remained together for 23 years until their divorce. In 1991, he married Judy Sullivan, and they lived at Tellico Village, Tenn., until their divorce. He spent his final years with Cynthia Eubanks in Knoxville, Tenn.

Gene worked for the Chicago Tribune, but for most of his career, he owned and operated his own business, G.W. Printing Co., in Western Springs, Ill, primarily out of his home’s spacious basement. In later years, he operated an antiques mall near Knoxville, Tenn. He was very active in Rotary International, beginning in 1975, and continuing for more than 30 years.

Gene was most widely known for his involvement in a local end-of-summer festival, called Harvest Days, sponsored by the local Rotary Club and Business Association and held in Spring Rock Park in Western Springs during the 1980s. He helped coordinate hot-air balloon rides, a crowd-pleasing dunk tank contest and an antique car show, featuring his own Model A and Model T antique cars.

He was famous throughout the neighborhood wherever he lived for his elaborate, multi-dimensional Christmas holiday decorations that blanketed his property, including lights strung around the entire house, a santa and reindeer positioned on the roof and a giant 10-foot-tall wooden wreath he’d made himself to greet visitors at the front door.

He farmed. He played golf. He snowmobiled. He played tennis. He loved IU basketball and UT football. He smoked like a chimney. And he laughed at his own jokes.

Gene is survived by his daughters and sons-in-law, Denise and Troy Funk of Naperville, Ill., and Kim and Eddie Moore of Santa Fe, NM; three grandchildren, Stacey Funk, Tyler Funk and Logan Moore; three siblings, Don (Andria) Wessel of Bluffton, SC, Karen (Larry) Garloch of Charlotte, NC, and Edie (Mark) Drews of Plainfield, Ind.; and two nieces, Deborah Wessel, of Beaufort, SC, and Kelly (Jared) Hartman, of Wisner, Neb.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother-in-law, Rick Sons; a sister-in-law, Zonamarie Wessel; and a nephew-in-law, Rob Brown.

No funeral or memorial services are planned.

No posts to display