Gene Clyde Monger, formerly of Beaumont, Texas, died peacefully November 7, 2020, at his Austin retirement community — three months shy of his 96th birthday. He leaves behind his beloved wife, George Anne Monger, two daughters, two grandchildren, and an extended family and numerous friends who celebrate his long life, remarkable banking career, and the lasting positive difference he made in the world.
The second oldest of five children born to Clyde and Elizabeth Monger, Gene grew up on a tenant farm in rural Illinois. He was resourceful from an early age. He hunted to help put food on the table and took on odd jobs as early as age 10 to boost the family income.
After graduating high school, Gene moved to Beaumont, Texas to work with an uncle and escape the snow. On the strength of Gene’s letter home urging his family to join him, his parents and four siblings packed up and headed to Texas. They didn’t know where he lived or worked, but on Christmas Eve night 1941, the family pulled into the Beaumont filling station where Gene was working. It was a true Christmas miracle.
Gene always said that marrying Beaumont native George Anne McCune was the best decision he ever made. In their more than 70 years together, they raised two children, pursued meaningful careers (banking for him, library science for her), supported their beloved Calder Baptist Church family, grew large gardens and an even larger circle of friends, and travelled the world.
Gene did many things in his early working life — driving a truck and proving himself a crackerjack mechanic and body and fender man. But college changed that. Although he already had a job when he graduated Lamar Junior College in 1947, instructor Norma Hall insisted he keep the interview at First National Bank of Beaumont that she had arranged for him. Gene never looked back. He was immediately hired, went to work that same day as a bookkeeper, and three months later was made assistant head of the department.
Steadily promoted, Gene assumed responsibility for all internal bank operations and, in the five years before his retirement in 1986, he served as the bank’s Executive Vice President. One of his proudest achievements was envisioning an automated system for setting up new customer accounts and that software was eventually used nationwide.
After retiring from First City Bank of Beaumont, Gene consulted with banks across southeast Texas on ways to improve operations. He was known as an expert in the field and for his generosity in mentoring others, with one admirer noting, “Many are good bankers today because they learned from Gene.”
Gene earned a BBA in 1965 from Lamar State College of Technology and a master’s degree in banking in 1972 from Rutgers University, where his thesis was one of the few accepted that year into Rutgers’ library. In retirement, he created the George Anne and Gene C. Monger Scholarship in Accounting in Memory of Norma Hall to help accounting students pay for their education at Lamar University. One of his greatest pleasures was hearing from scholarship recipients.
But he was more than his work. Gene was an investment whiz, fisherman extraordinaire, dedicated gardener, great storyteller, collector of mechanical banks, and could grill a spectacular speckled trout. He was a wonderful father and grandfather — and the most loyal of friends.
Gene was a long-time deacon at Calder Baptist Church and donated his time to handling the church’s accounting for more than 30 years. He also baked more than 20,000 of his famous Monger Biscuits over 20 years for the monthly Men’s Breakfast at Calder Church — bequeathing Pastor Jim Fuller his “magic biscuit spoon.” Before moving to Austin in his 90s, Gene was named a Deacon Emeritus of Calder Church.
He and George Anne traveled to Alaska, Canada, Ireland, and across Europe, and made a dozen trips to housesit for friends on the Big Island of Hawaii. They reserved Sunday afternoons for taking both daughters and their friends for bike rides, picnics, beach trips, and treasure hunts on the Neches River. Gene taught his children and grandchildren to fish, drive a boat, find the fun in everything, and be kind to others.
Gene was active in Beaumont civic groups and was a board member of Baptist Hospital of Southeast Texas and Sabine Oaks nursing home, where he was named a Board member emeritus after helping restructure that facility’s finances to ensure they could continue serving lower-income seniors.
We remember his wise counsel, quick smile, and pancakes “with a blueberry in every bite.” We celebrate his life and will cherish him always.
Gene Monger is survived by his wife, George Anne, now of Austin; two daughters, Dinah Monger of Plano and Janis Monger Mason of Austin and her husband Tom; two grandchildren, Kate Mason of Denver and Thomas Hart Mason of Austin; sister Dr. Joanne Baker of Beaumont, brother Wayne Monger and wife Lee of Rusk, and sister-in-law Molly Monger of Emory. He is predeceased by sister Marie and brother Kenneth. He delighted in his four nephews, five nieces, and their children. He loved this family.
There will be no service due to Covid-19. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Calder Baptist Church, 1005 N 11th St., Beaumont, TX 77702 or Some Other Place, 590 Center St., Beaumont, TX 77701 to help meet emergency needs of low-income people.
Please visit the tribute wall to see additional photos from Gene's life and to leave your own remembrances and stories.