Obituary of Eugene C. 'Gene' Courtney

USNG

EUGENE C. COURTNEY - of Marstons Mills, September 16th, unexpectedly at 79 years of age. Loving husband of Shirley E. (Beck) Courtney. Cherished father of Diane Courtney, her husband John Eckhardt of Lynnfield, Donna Peary, her husband Keith of Middleton, Cheryl Bosia, her husband Michael of Dracut and Eugene Courtney, his wife Maria of Mansfield . Dear brother of the late Edward Courtney. Very special Grampy to Annabelle and Lorelei Eckhardt of Lynnfield, Matthew, Andrew and Luke Peary of Middleton, Hallie, Brian and Sean Bosia of Dracut, and Olivia, Julia and Daniel Courtney of Mansfield. A Funeral will be held in the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn, on Friday, September 22nd at 9 a.m, followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Barbara's Church, 138 Cambridge Rd, Woburn at 10. Family and friends are respectfully invited to call at Funeral Home, Thursday, September 21st, 4-8 p.m. Interment at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Arlington. Remembrances may be made in Gene's honor to the Knights of Columbus Charities for the United Disaster Relief, One Columbus Plaza, PO Box 1966, New Haven, CT 06509 or The Knights of Columbus Charities Disaster Relief for Victims of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey at https://www.kofc.org/un/en/secure/charities/disaster-relief.html.

OBITUARY;

Gene was born in Boston and raised in Arlington, MA. He was a proud Irish-American, devout Catholic, loyal Boston sports fan, and a down-to-earth, hard-working, devoted family man.

Born into a family gifted with “green thumbs”, Gene appreciated the beauty of plants, trees, and flowers from a very early age. Gardening was a natural way of life for Gene and his family. The Courtney family belonged to the Immaculate Conception Parish in Cambridge. Gene’s faith grew stronger as he grew and received each sacrament. He graduated from Arlington High School Class of ’58 with many happy memories of playing varsity football (among many other sports), winning dance contests, and enjoying an active, fun-loving social life.

After high school, building on his keen interest and natural talent with plants, he attended Rittners School of Floral Design in Boston. While studying at Rittners, Gene met the love of his life, Shirley, on a blind date set up by mutual friends. His graduation from Rittners led to him partnering with his older brother, Edward, to open a successful family floral business, Courtney Brothers Florist on Mass Ave in East Arlington.

Gene left the family flower shop in order to serve our country as a member of the Army National Guard. A few years later, a job at the Northeastern University Bookstore helped him get his foot in the door for an opportunity of a lifetime. Northeastern offered him the position of Greenhouse Supervisor for their newly purchased greenhouse facility in Woburn. The new position included on-site university housing for his family on 75 beautiful wooded acres.

Gene spent the majority of his career managing the greenhouses and grounds of the “Northeastern University Botanical Research Station”, a longtime landmark formerly located on Cambridge Road in Woburn. Although he taught some formal Horticulture classes for the university, he especially loved networking and sharing his knowledge of plants with anyone who shared his passion for learning how to make things grow. He started a large community garden for students, alumni, friends, neighbors, people from all walks of life - - anyone interested in cultivating and maintaining a garden patch. His passion for plants, Irish gift of gab and wit, genuine interest and concern for the well-being of others, and just never taking himself too seriously helped him build many valued, long-term friendships with greenhouse visitors, volunteers, faithful employees, and co-workers.

Gene always appreciated being able to make a living doing what he truly loved. Another major incentive for him to accept this position at Northeastern was to secure free college tuition for all four of his children. Knowing that all four of his children graduated (completely debt-free) with degrees from Northeastern University gave him a deep sense of satisfaction, pride, and accomplishment.

Gene and Shirley raised their four children, Diane, Donna, Cheryl, and Eugene, in Woburn. They were active parishioners at St. Barbara’s Parish. Gene taught CCD and was honored to be among St. Barbara’s first group of laypeople to be trained to serve as Eucharistic Ministers at Mass. General and Shirley served as mentors and teachers for Pre-Cana Marriage Preparation classes. Gene was active in local Boy Scouting as Scoutmaster to his son Eugene’s troop. He was a very proud supporter and advisor to Eugene and several of Eugene’s peers in earning their Eagle Scout Awards. Gene and his son both earned membership in the Order of the Arrow. Courtney summers were spent fishing, boating, beaching and camping with the family at Bourne Scenic Park overlooking the Cape Cod Canal. Gene enjoyed celebrating his Irish heritage by dancing and socializing at the Billerica Irish American Club. As a member of the New England Horticultural Society, he served as a judge and also won several awards at the Boston Flower Show.

As an environmentalist, he was active in many organizations including: Massachusetts Wildlife Federation (President) and Plum Island Surfcasters. As a member of the Plum Island Surfcasters, he was instrumental in getting regulation passed to extend our national fishing limits from 12 miles to 200 miles. He also spent many hours working and lobbying in favor of Massachusetts’ Bottle Bill. He was an early and avid proponent of organic gardening and composting, and overall conservation efforts.

After forty-years with Northeastern, Gene retired to Marstons Mills on the Cape in 2003. Blessed with good health, Gene and Shirley lived retired life to the fullest - - thrilled to have seen their life-long dream of living on the Cape come to fruition. Gene enjoyed kayaking, bicycling, walking the beaches, quahogging, and taking visitors on his signature, information-packed car tours around all of his favorite spots on the Cape.

When word got out that Gene was now on the Cape full-time, he was quickly recruited to manage the design, planning, and maintenance of the seasonal public plantings for the seven villages of Barnstable. He was especially honored to be responsible for the JFK Memorial on the waterfront in Hyannis. He also worked as the rose consultant at Mahoney’s Garden Center in Osterville. Although he found his work and the social interactions rewarding, he finally became ready to change gears to a more leisurely life of boating, fishing, reading, genealogy research, and family time. He was a proud member of the Knights of Columbus, Irish American Club of Cape Cod, Sons of Erin Cape Cod, Cape Cod Power and Sail Squadron, Barnstable Association of Recreational Shellfishing, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Gene fulfilled another dream when he and Shirley began wintering in southwestern Florida. Gene joined clubs for boating and fishing, writing, genealogy research, nature, photography, computers, shuffleboard, and pickle ball, just to name a few. He was also a proud member of the Venice Power Squadron of Florida. He formed many wonderful friendships with people from all over the U.S. at their winter home at LaCasa in Northport, FL.

Gene loved being physically active, constantly learning new things, and connecting with people though humor and laughter. Gene would run into someone with whom he had some connection, such as a mutual friend or relative that he knew, wherever he went. He loved God and practicing his Catholic faith. He loved dancing and eating ice cream. He loved adding “data” to his vast collection of genealogy research that he compiled over the past 50 years. He loved beautiful flowers, the ocean, and salt air.

Throughout Gene’s life he nurtured many passions with his greatest passion being his family. In August, Gene and Shirley celebrated 54 years of happily married life together. Gene was a proud grandfather to eleven grandchildren. His legacy will live on through his family, his friends, and the many others who had the pleasure of knowing him.

Sadly, Gene is predeceased by his brother, Edward Courtney. He is lovingly survived by his wife, Shirley E. (Beck) Courtney, his children Diane Courtney and her husband John Eckhardt of Lynnfield, Donna Peary and her husband Keith of Middleton, Cheryl Bosia and her husband Michael of Dracut and Eugene Courtney and his wife Maria of Mansfield and his grandchildren, Annabelle and Lorelei Eckhardt of Lynnfield, Matthew, Andrew and Luke Peary of Middleton, Hallie, Brian and Sean Bosia of Dracut, and Olivia, Julia and Daniel Courtney of Mansfield. A Funeral will be held in the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn, on Friday, September 22nd at 9 a.m, followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Barbara's Church, 138 Cambridge Rd, Woburn at 10. Family and friends are respectfully invited to call at Funeral Home, Thursday, September 21st, 4-8 p.m. Interment at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Arlington. Remembrances may be made in Gene's honor to the Knights of Columbus Charities for the United Disaster Relief, One Columbus Plaza, PO Box 1966, New Haven, CT 06509 or The Knights of Columbus Charities Disaster Relief for Victims of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey at https://www.kofc.org/un/en/secure/charities/disaster-relief.html.