Gene Novak

Obituary of Gene Lee Novak

Gene Lee Novak

May 2, 1933 — June 9, 2021

On Wednesday, June 9, 2021, Gene Lee Novak, loving husband and father and faithful servant of the Lord, passed away at the age of 88 in Cottonwood, Arizona. A man of few words, faith, family, farming and fixing were the loves of his life.

The first-born son of Frank and Verla Novak, Gene was born May 2, 1933, on their family farm in Pender, Nebraska. Following his service in the Army in 1953-1955, he married Ruth Rihanek on May 15, 1955. After one year of majoring in electrical engineering at the University of Nebraska, Gene knew that farming was in his occupational DNA. He and Ruth moved to their family farm in Leigh, Nebraska, where they proudly parented two children, LaJean and Bob. Novak family life rotated around the seasons of farm life—sowing and reaping, praying for rain, raising livestock and equipment repair. As a mechanical whiz and inventor, Gene enjoyed many hours working in his shop. He once told Ruth that he would never live long enough to build all the things he had in his mind.

In addition to farming, Gene also served as crop specialist and equipment repair foreman at Maple Valley Co-Op in Leigh for 12 years and worked with his wife, Ruth, as managers of the Westbrook Apartments in Columbus from 1995-2000.

Gene was a committed citizen of the Leigh community, serving 19 years on the school board. He loved, valued, and assisted fellow farmers and neighbors throughout his life.

Most of all, Gene loved his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His unshakeable faith in the gospel was demonstrated through a devoted life of service. He invested nearly 60 years as a member, deacon, and faithful volunteer at Word of Life Church in Columbus. He was also a 30-year member of The Gideons International, a Christian organization which distributes Bibles all over the world. He read through the Bible annually for 25 years until he was no longer capable of reading. In 1998, Gene and Ruth joined MAPS RVers and traveled throughout the US working on 50 projects that involved building churches, Christian schools and campgrounds, children’s homes, and Teen Challenge centers. In 2013, Gene and Ruth were honored as “Laymen of the Year” by the Nebraska District of the Assemblies of God. Serving was his joy, passion and call of duty.

Gene considered his family as his greatest life legacy. He prayed daily for his wife, children and grandchildren. He took them to church, read them the scriptures and modeled a life of love for God and others. His closing days will be cherished by the family with memories of his simple prayers of gratitude and his constant reach to hold their hands. 

Gene was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Verla, and his sister, Delores Wandersee. He is survived by his loving wife, Ruth, and two children, LaJean (Mark) Hadenfeldt of Sedona, Arizona, and Bob (Esther) Novak of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, five grandchildren—Garrett, Grant, Katie, Lindsey and Lauren, and eight great-grandchildren—Nate, Britton, Theo, Ruby, Stella, Asher, Truman, and Lennon; as well as siblings Ruth Meyer, Kenneth Novak, Bette Kivett and Donald Novak. 

On Wednesday, June 30th, a memorial service will be held at Word of Life Church, 3701 23rd Street in Columbus, Nebraska, with visitation at 10:00 AM and life celebration at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Gene can be made to Gideon’s International ( Condolences can be sent to Ruth Novak, 201 E. Mingus Ave., Apt. 267, Cottonwood, AZ 86326.










































































































































































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