If you read the memorial to Gene then you can get some sense of why his life is being celebrated throughout the Northeast.
Gene twice served as president of the MAS, 1958-1960 and 1996-1998. Each time he guided the Society through important transitions.
Gene was the Museum Coordinator for the Robbins from the fall of 1999 to the fall of 2012. When the Museum (and the Society) was in need Gene found a way to help. He was not only responsible for designing and constructing some of the exhibits but often for acquiring the cases in which the items were displayed. Gene used his contacts throughout the archaeological community to find cases that were available and then he would either arrange for someone to pay for the shipping of the units to the Robbins or he would pay the freight costs himself. He occasionally designed the devices used to mount the artifacts within the cases. His gifts to the MAS did not end with display items.
When the Society needed new racks for artifact storage, Gene purchased them with his own funds. He also acquired the trays used to hold the artifacts. Often the source of these items was the Robert S. Peabody Museum, an institution (along with the staff) that was very dear to his heart.
When the education department needed source materials for a teacher training program, Gene loaned them books from his extensive personal library.
Along with the physical objects that Gene donated to the MAS, the other things that he gave mattered more.
Gene was always ready, willing and more than able to share his vast knowledge of New England archaeology, whether the recipients were fellow archaeologists, students or visitors to the Museum. Gene’s recall of past events and the people involved was legendary. He would be asked about an event from the late 1950’s and without hesitation he would describe the situation. During a recent discussion at an MAS board meeting he helped resolve an issue by describing a similar situation that he had witnessed many years ago at the Peabody.
Emily, Age 11, lives in a town on Buzzards Bay and walks her dog, Rocky on the beach every day. She’s always on the lookout for interesting things on these walks and came up with two very nice artifacts Her mother brought Emily to the Robbins Museum in Middleborough where they were identified by Eugene Winter, the Robbins Museum Coordinator, as Native American points.
Then there was the pleasure derived from just being in his company. Gene always had a story that would have you rolling in the aisles (if the Museum had an aisle). One would have paid an admission fee to attend the Wednesday lunches at the Robbins when Gene, Jeff Boudreau and the others in attendance would discuss the many unresolved questions in New England archaeology. On what turned out to be his last visit to the Robbins Gene brought his guitar and serenaded the Wednesday crew.
Gene was one of those rare individuals who made the world a better place just by his existence. He will truly be missed.
A Memorial Service and celebration of Gene’s life was held on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Robert S. Peabody Museum, Andover, MA.