Visitation: 2 to 7 p.m., Sunday, and Monday 10 a.m. to service time
Services: 11 a.m., Monday, at our Simpson Chapel. Burial at Rose Hill full Military Rites
Gene N. Fithian, 90, of Newburgh, Ind., former mining industry executive, passed away January 27 at 1:10 pm at his Newburgh home. He was the former General Manager of Operations for AMAX Coal Company, a decorated WWII US Navy Veteran, a dynamic member of his community and active in his church.
Fithian is survived by his wife of 67 years, Shirley (Voice) Fithian, two sons and daughters-in-law, Rex and Beverly of Rockwall, Texas and Don and Karen of Newburgh. He is also survived by his grandchildren - Grant and Allison Fithian of Rockwall, Texas, Jessica Fithian of Newburgh, Joshua and Abby Fithian of Fate, Texas, Tom and Erin Fithian of Evansville, Charles and Sara Fithian of Newburgh; step-grandchildren Chris and Raquel Moore of Austin, Texas and Dennis and Robyn Bryant of Fate, Texas and his great-grandchildren Braeden, Olivia, Arthur and Luke Fithian and step great-grandchildren Madison, Zach and Jay Galloway, Mekenzie Mahan, and Izzy, Julie, Hayden and Mollie Ives.
Fithian was born in Cuba, Illinois on October 30, 1925 to George William and Josephine (Barco) Fithian and was the fourth of seven children, all of whom have preceded him in death. After graduating from high school, he joined the US Navy and was stationed on a destroyer during World War II. His ship was involved in several major battles during the campaign in the South Pacific and Fithian would later be instrumental in lobbying for a Congressional Citation recognizing the courage and valor of its crew during several strategic battles. In May 2001, The Courier and Press published a feature article about his naval experiences and his effort to get the recognition that his ship mates deserved.
After the war, Fithian moved to Danville, Illinois, just east of the town of Fithian, a community founded by his great-great grandfather, who was a close personal friend and political ally of Abraham Lincoln. Fithian, Illinois became an important agricultural center and railroad hub for the frontier of Eastern Illinois. It was there that he began his mining career as an equipment operator with Fairview Collieries, the predecessor to AMAX Coal Company. After a number of years operating some of the largest draglines of that era, Fithian moved into management and was promoted a number of times to eventually become the General Manager of AMAX Coal Company’s Midwest operations, responsible for twelve surface mines in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. He would serve AMAX for 33 years before retiring in 1980.
He continued to be a valuable asset to the mining industry after his retirement, serving as a consulting to some of the world’s largest mining companies and equipment manufacturers. His consulting assignments took him all over the United States as well as South America, England and South Africa. During his active years in the coal industry, he was President of the Indiana Coal Mining Institute on two separate occasions and served on the Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association National Committee.
Fithian was an active member of Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville, and a past member of several veteran and service organizations including serving as President of the USS Farenholt Association.
Gene Fithian never met a stranger and if you ever met him, chances are you’d never forget him. He was always there to help friends and family and will be truly missed by all. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Crossroads Christian Church or the Disabled American Veterans.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m., Monday, February 1, 2016, at Titzer Family Funeral Homes, Simpson Chapel, 510 W. Jennings, Newburgh, Ind. (812) 853-8314. Burial will be in Rose Hill Cemetery with military graveside rites conducted by American Legion Kapperman Post 44. Visitation will be held 2 to 7 p.m., Sunday, January 31, 2016 and Monday 10 a.m. to service time at the funeral home. Sympathy wishes may be made at www.titzerfuneralhomes.com.