Esley “Gene” Oliver, age 85, died peacefully in his sleep on Friday, May 19, 2017.
He was born in McClelland, Arkansas on October 17, 1931 to Esley Oliver and Ida Sawyer and was the oldest of five children. Gene will always be remembered for his passion for life, his love of academics and the sport of tennis. Gene grew up in the small California town of Oakdale. Gene graduated from Oakdale High School where he was the school’s student body president and was voted most likely to succeed by his senior class. Gene went on to graduate from Modesto Junior College and UC Berkeley majoring in history. Gene earned a master’s degree from San Francisco State University.
He served in the US Army during the Korean War and was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska where he served as the Chaplain’s assistant as well as volunteering for recon missions in bombers on numerous occasions. After serving his country and finishing school Gene went to work teaching history and later became a guidance counselor at Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek. He finished his career as an administrator at Acalanes Union High School District. He was especially proud of his work in special education which benefits students in California to this day.
Gene lived in Orinda, CA most of his adult life. Gene and his wife Helen also spent many summers and winters in their vacation home in McCall, Idaho. Gene’s love for history and travel carried on throughout his entire life. It is reflected in all the wonderful places he traveled and in the books Gene read and loved. You could see his passion for life in the years of devotion to his monthly book club, all the photos he took and his neatly organized albums. Gene was a story teller with a great sense of humor. He loved gardening, wood working and cross country skiing. Gene was a very handy person and was always there to help family and friends. He had a passion for automobiles and told the story of the ‘50s era Jaguar that he bought when he first got out of the army. Most of all Gene loved tennis. He played almost daily his entire life.
Gene is survived by his four children Stephen, Cary, wife Charlene, Kelly, wife Judy and his daughter Marty. He is also survived by his wife of 42 years Helen Brodine Oliver and her children Ingri Millemann, her husband Steve, Helen’s sons Tom Anderson, his wife Lynn and preceded in death by Alan Anderson. Gene leaves behind 14 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
Services will be held at St Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1924 Trinity Ave., Walnut Creek, CA on Friday, June 9 at 5 p.m.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, June 10 at 5 p.m. at the Oakdale Christian Church, 330 Maxwell Ave., Oakdale CA.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
June 7, 2017