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Gene Kwas 1922-2012

Gene KwasEugene Stanley Kwasniewski “Gene Kwas” died Nov. 16, 2012, in his home in Austin, Texas.

Gene Kwas, to all who knew and loved him, was born Eugene Stanley Kwasniewski on Oct. 14, 1922, the middle of seven boys, to Joseph and Josephine Kwasniewski.

Though he couldn’t speak English until second grade, athletic ability earned him many sports letters in Evanston Township High School. His strength was speed, breaking the 100-yard dash time in high school in under 10 seconds, bettering Jim Thorpe’s record. He attended a state dinner with the governor, unheard of for an immigrant’s son, and received a football scholarship to the University of Illinois. He did not become an opera singer, as encouraged by the choir mistress of Evanston HS Elite Concert Choir.

World War II interrupted his sophomore year in college, sending him to the Air Force, a “90 day wonder,” drafted and “instantly” made an officer. A bombardier at age 19, he was taught how to fly a B-17 bomber, and was off to Bari, Italy.

The War over, the decorated war veteran resumed his career as a football halfback hero, with a win against UCLA in the Rose Bowl of 1947. Playing poker nights, he was able to fund his law degree in 1950, then practiced law in Peru to be close to his college sweetheart. Gene married Lillian Marie Forcht in 1950, a happy 63-year union.

Gene joined the FBI, assigned to San Mateo, Calif., where daughter Anne was born. He was a special agent for five years during the McCarthy era.
He accepted a claim position with Allstate in Houston, Texas. He retired 28 years later as a vice president in Northbrook.

He retired to Austin in 1984. He passed the Texas Bar first in the class over recent UT graduates and hoped to set up shop, then decided a better goal was to play golf with friends.

He belonged to KC, American Legion Post 326, Insurance Security Assn, American Society of Industrial Security, Ex-Special FBI Agents, Austin Diocesan Forum, Barton Creek Duplicate Bridge, Fairways Poker, Illinois and Texas Bar associations, and Onion and Barton Creeks Men’s Golf Associations. This year, his college fraternity, Psi Upsilon, honored him in their “Men of the Century” with a football photo on its cover.

Gene made others feel good with his sense of humor. The days before cancer took him, he sang or hummed melodies true to his operatic soul but most at peace with his faithful life.

He is survived by his wife; one daughter, Anne (Ron) Genturo; one grandson, Joseph; nieces and nephews.

Posted on January 22, 2013 by Chris Bonjean