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Zoeller Funeral Home

OBITUARY

Gene Challenner

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Gene Challenner, of New Braunfels, Texas passed away in 2021 at the age of 88. He was born in Oklahoma City, OK and was preceded in death by his parents Ansel and Lucile. He is survived by his wife Marilyn; sister June Prewitt; wonderful children, Cathy, Richard, and Phillip Challenner, and Jeanne Anne Nabavi; his three grandsons, Ryan and Aaron Challenner, and Omeed Nabavi. He is also survived by three step children, Melissa Brooks, Stephanie Gilbert, and Billy Grant Ruhman, along with five step-grandsons, Monroe Eerebout, Rubin Arzate, Isaac Arzate, Ashton Brosi, and Levi Stewart.

Gene attended the University of Oklahoma two years, then transferred to Phillips University where he obtained a BA in biology. He, much later, served on the Phillips University Board of Trustees, and served two years as president of the Phillips University Alumni Association. He was co-founder of the Phillips University Legacy Foundation on which he was Board Chair its first 10 years, then its president.

Gene served his country in the U.S. Army from 1955-58 as an instructor in medical technology at the US Army Medical Training Center in Landstuhl, Germany. While in army training, his daughter Cathy gained a brother, Richard. In Germany, his second son, Phillip, was born. There, also, Gene enjoyed weekend racing competition in his English Hillman family sedan.

Following army service, his career developed. He was a science teacher in Albuquerque, NM for three years during which his second daughter, Jeanne Anne, was born. Upon leaving his teaching career, he joined Red Top, Inc. where he rose to the position of Western Area Director of Operations. In 1975 he became president of Crothall Hospital Services, Ltd in Brisbane and Adelaide, Australia. While there he was honored as Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. He also lived in New Zealand during that time and named it as his favorite place to live. Upon return to the United States, he became Regional Vice President of Marriott Facilities Management. In 1979 he co-founded and became President of Advanced Environmental Systems in Dallas, TX. After selling Advanced he became owner and President of Southwestern Building Management in Corpus Christi, TX. Gene retired in 1998.

Favorite memories of his included camping with his kids in Colorado, weekend scouting events and canoeing with both his daughter Jeanne Anne and his son Phillip, and off-road riding on his motorcycle in the mountains of Colorado. He eagerly anticipated each annual Christmas reunion with his extended family for the last 20 years where there was bonding through reminiscing “old times,” playing word games and eating.

Love of traveling took him to New Zealand, Australia, England, Scotland, Central Europe, the Caribbean, the British West Indies and 46 of the 50 states.

Gene was in Who’s Who in Building Service Contracting and served on the School-Industrial Cooperative Committee of the Texas State Technical Institute. He was a member of the Chief Executive Officers Club in Dallas, TX, and president of the Corpus Christi Executive Association. After moving to New Braunfels, he served on the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, New Braunfels and as President of the Southbank Owners Association.

In addition to a very successful career path, his passion has been to serve the Phillips University Legacy Foundation. Its mission “is to follow the tradition of Phillips University by providing scholarships and opportunities to educate and develop leaders who embody Christian values in their lives, service and work.”

Gene was a leader, a gentleman and a scholar. But his children will remember him as Dad and his grandsons as Granddad, the titles for which he was the most proud and grateful.

Services will be held at First Protestant Church of New Braunfels on January 8, 2022 at 1:00pm. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Phillips University Legacy Foundation.

Services

8 January

Memorial Service

1:00 pm

First Protestant Church

172 W Coll St
New Braunfels, Texas 78130

8 January

Reception following Service

 

Memories

Gene Challenner

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Nancy Phillips

November 28, 2021

I met Gene through our joint love of Phillips University. Gene helped establish the Phillips University Legacy Foundation and has been active in the Phillips Alumni Association. After working with Gene for many years, I observed him to be a leader and advisor who was always ready to take any action needed. I valued Gene's business experience, knowledge of nonprofits, and most of all his integrity. If Gene made a statement, you could trust his words. He was always a gentleman. Phillips University Legacy Foundation exists thanks to Gene, and continues to provide scholarships thanks to Gene's leadership and vision. We will miss you. "In reverance we stand....."

Catherine Quinlan

November 26, 2021

Appreciate all Gene did for Phillips University during the years since he graduated and then to the Legacy Foundation. I have served on several committees with him through the years and his dedication was inspiring.

Susan Hrovat

November 25, 2021

I became acquainted with Gene while serving on the Phillips University Legacy Foundation as a director and committee member. Always the gentleman, I'll remember Gene's gracious heart and kind soul. I will miss his leadership, his thoughtful advice and his compassion. He will be missed by so many. To Marilyn and family I hold you now in prayer.

Debbie Dunn

November 23, 2021

I will be forever grateful to Gene for his kindness on taking a chance to hire me to work for Southbank and his support to this community. He will be surely missed by many. My thoughts and prayers for his family and loving wife Marilyn.

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