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Memorial To Gene Autry

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Gene Autry would say San Antonio Prime Timers is the best social value in town. He calculated our scheduled annual events divided by our $26 annual dues, resulting in a seven cent cost per event and pitched that number in recruiting. He was an enthusiastic Prime Timers salesman.

In 2014, he began his presidency in San Antonio with 108 chapter members. Using his managerial skills from a career with Xerox, he led the Board and the chapter with enthusiasm, confidence, innovative activities, and a contagious smile. He always ended Board meetings with "how could we have conducted this meeting better" by gathering comments from each officer, rewarded with a smile and compliment on their performance. The chapter added new recurring activities like bowling, a flea market treasure hunt, dining events that accommodated working member schedules, day trips to area events, and much more. By December 2016, the chapter had grown to 201 members. Gene was ever-present at events and joked, "I went to 23 Prime Timer events this month and was chastised for missing the 24th!" He was a dedicated Prime Timer.

Gene was diagnosed with cancer and came to our General Meeting to announce we would make it a learning experience as he fought the good fight. He encouraged our members to get frequent checkups and not to ignore a change in your normal health that you might pass off as nothing to worry about. Even as he fought cancer, he put priority on the health of his disabled daughter who had lived with him most of her life. He thought of others, too. Our doorbell rang one Saturday afternoon and there stood Gene. He had sensed by the tone of my voice in a conversation earlier in the day that I might be troubled by something. He said, "I just wanted to drop by to make sure you guys are okay." Typically, he put others first.

On a visit to Gene's home last December, Gene asked me to excuse him while got something. He returned with an old index card that was bent and faded with age. On it was a printed list. He explained that he wanted to live by certain principles and carried this card in his pocket to always remind him of them. He handed it to me, saying, "I want you to have this." A particularly nice compliment accompanied this gift.

The card read: Always look for the best in others and recognize them for it, Make everyone feel special, Leave every place I go better than when I arrived.

Gene Autry lived up to those principles very successfully. He left behind his two beloved daughters, a grandson, other family members, friends, and a better San Antonio Prime Timer chapter than when he became our president.

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