Laughlin, Earl Eugene “Gene”
He was born on June 6, 1926 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, son of the late Edwin and Irene (LeBeau) Laughlin. At the end of his sophomore year in High School, he thought he had all of the answers and ran away from home. He went to Ohio because he had uncles working there on a government project. After the end of the project, he was employed at the BF Goodrich Tire Factory. He was drafted in 1944 and requested to serve in the US Navy from 1944 until 1946. He served aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Santee, in the South Pacific, as a signalman and was honorably discharged on his 21st birthday on June 6, 1947.
Upon his return stateside, he returned to New London and started Laughlin Excavating. Many of the basements dug in the south side of New London during the 1950s and early 1960s were dug by Gene. While digging basements, he also started chasing the love of his life, Phyllis Ritchie, from the other side of the tracks. Gene and Phyllis were married on July 26, 1950 at the Most Precious Blood Catholic Church. As their family started to grow, so did their family’s business ventures. In 1963, Dale Reese, Gene’s brother-in-law, and Gene started the long-standing community business, Highway Truck Parts. In 1977 he bought out his brother-in-law and made it a family-run operation eventually bringing in his two sons and nephew. He continued to run his business until the very end and when he could no longer be at the business he continued working from his home office. During his spare time, he enjoyed traveling with his wife and family in one of their RVs to see the great nation that he fought for. After a number of ventures to one of his favorite locations in northern Wisconsin, he purchased a cottage on Lac Vieux Desert. He spent his time fishing for perch, reading, studying the stock market, watching PBS, enjoying big band music, working and after 40 years, he started attending his Navy reunions. The reunions became so important that he eventually became President of the reunion committee. After the sale of the cottage, he enjoyed spending time at the casino. This past summer Gene and Phyllis celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with their immediate family. Over the years Gene was known for many quotes. “It is what you learn after you know it all that really counts.” “Hire a teenager that has all of the answers cause he won’t have them for long.” “I’m short on praise because I always expect everyone to do their best!” and “I’m imperfectly perfect!”
He is survived and will be greatly missed by his loving wife Phyllis; his daughter Lynne Laughlin-Riley, New London, her children, Holly (Mitch DeBehnke) McCarty (Greenville) her children Gabriel and Aubrey; Todd (Nancy) Riley, La Crosse, their children Aiden and Brenya; son Blair, New London, his daughters, Angela (Tony) Monty, New London, her children Alexia and Payton; Gina Laughlin, Bonduel, her children: Kendra, Korbin and Hunter; Dr. Blaire Marie (Bancs) Laughlin-Bowers, Martinez, Georgia; son Don (Connie) Laughlin, New London, their children: Melissa (Brian) Holtz, Oshkosh, Heather (Scott) Thibodeau, their son Austin, Appleton, WI; Tyler Laughlin, New London; Ashley (Jesse) Beschta, their daughters, Nova and Charlee, Wichita Falls, Texas, his daughter Julie (Jeff) Roberts, New London, and their daughter Christy Roberts, Salt Lake City, Utah. In-laws: Lorraine Kettner, Margaret Rasmussen, Bernard Ritchie, Darla Ritchie, Rose (Dan) Schultz, David (Boni) Ritchie, Noni (Art) Gorges, and Reta Wirth. Gene is further survived by nephews, nieces, other relatives and many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Don and Bob Laughlin and his sisters, Alice and (Orville), Roehl and Ruth (Dale) Reese and brother-in-law Leroy Ritchie, Carl Kettner, Bob Rasmussen, Charlene Ritchie, and Terry Wirth.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to the Doctors and Nurses at ThedaCare and the staff of ThedaCare Hospice, New London, and also to Father John from Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, and the students of MPB School in New London.
The visitation will be on Saturday, May 22, 2021, from 9-11 a.m. at Most Precious Blood, Catholic Church in New London, the funeral service will follow at 11:00 a.m. with Fr. John Kleinschmidt officiating. Burial will be in the Most Precious Blood Cemetery with Full Military Rites being held. In lieu of flowers please consider making a contribution to the Gene Laughlin Memorial Fund which will be used to sponsor a student going into Mechanics. www.clinehansonfuneralhome.com 920-982-3232