The Massillon community loses a legend, as lifelong resident and football booster Gene Boerner died Wednesday morning at age 79.
Leader, Tiger football supporter, mentor, friend, hero and family man. Those are some of the words used to describe Gene Boerner — a man loved by the Massillon community and who loved the community right back.
“If anything ever came up football or booster club wise, the answer was, ‘See Gene, he’ll take care of it,’” said Junie Studer, a longtime Massillon Tiger historian. “There was no greater person.”
Boerner died Wednesday at his home. He was 79, and had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.
His son, Tim Boerner, said his dad was diagnosed in March.
“He was a great mentor, father and husband,” Tim Boerner said. “He always cared more about the community and people around him than himself.”
Tim Boerner said the family is requesting that no flowers be purchased, but rather, donations may be made to the Paul E. Brown Museum, which was his father’s “pet project.”
The museum is a work in progress and located in the basement of the former U.S. Post Office building, 22 Federal Ave. NE.
HERO TO MASSILLON FOOTBALL
Studer, Gene Boerner’s friend for more than four decades, called him a hero to the Massillon football program.
Studer said he became close friends with Boerner in 1972 when he served as president of the booster club, and Boerner was vice president.
“He’ll be missed as much as anybody ever was,” Studer said. “If you listed everything he’s ever done, you’d have to write a book.”
After graduating Washington High School in 1952, Boerner attended Ohio University, Kent State University and what was then Walsh College.
Boerner was past president of the Massillon Area Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Massillon Development Foundation. Through the years, Boerner ran the press box, and was affiliated with numerous organizations, including United Way of Western Stark County, Tiger Booster Club, Massillon Lions Club, Massillon Rotary Club and various others.
Boerner was a president of First Savings and Loan Co. and more recently a consultant for the Massillon Development Foundation, Miller Land Development and others.
Roughly 200 people turned out last month for a celebration of life event in Boerner’s honor held at the Firehouse in Massillon. Rudy Turkal was one of the speakers that night.
“He was a doer, a get-it-done kind of guy. He wasn’t afraid to tackle projects,” Turkal said of Boerner in a June 14 Independent story. “...orange blood runs in his veins.”
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, JoAnn, and four grown children, Chris, Jeff, Tim and Amy Boerner-Croston, in addition to five grandchildren.
A memorial service is being planned, the family said.
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