Eugene Gerald Lickteig was born June 15, 1949 and answered the gentle call of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on December 21, 2023. He fought the good fight for 2 ½ years with intrahepatic bile duct cancer firmly believed to have been contracted while proudly serving our country in Vietnam.
Born the middle child of seven in the northern Iowa town of Algona, Gene grew up on a farm in St. Benedict. There he learned the strong ethic of hard work and the value of a close loving family. Raised with a solid Catholic foundation, he was baptized and confirmed in the St. Benedict Catholic Church, and graduated from Bishop Garrigan High School in 1967.
Following in his father’s footsteps, who also joined the Army and fought in WWII, Gene felt a responsibility after high school to defend the United States of America and volunteered for the draft. His military occupation in Vietnam was driving armored personnel carrier tanks, a natural for him after growing up learning to handle large farm equipment. Another job Gene acquired included becoming a radio operator that communicated enemy locations, as well as tracking where their own troops were located as they moved through the jungle.
After an honorable discharge, and using computer and communication skills learned while in the Army, as well as college education, Gene’s career began in computer maintenance with General Dynamics, later changing their name to Anacomp, where he worked for 32 years. He attained regional management responsibilities covering 10 midwestern states for several years before the company began downsizing in 2006. So in his fifth decade of life, Gene successfully created a brand new line of business for himself in property restoration and management. Also owning rental property and being a talented handyman, Gene strongly finished his second career, and retired in 2019.
Throughout Gene’s life, he always cultivated a network of close friendships. His genuine personality, integrity, loyalty and respect for others made it so easy to relate to him. He was gifted in working with people and was a manager anyone would enjoy working for! He had a love and acceptance of all people, as well as a willingness to help out wherever needed. Gene seemed to thrive when being with people, and was happiest when engaging with family and friends. His warm and outgoing disposition brought an infectious enthusiasm for life that he lived to the fullest. He had a fun-loving spirit, and made the best of any situation. In everything, he had a positive attitude. After all, from his viewpoint, “at least he wasn’t sleeping in a foxhole with red ants biting him, and no one was shooting at him!”
During the years, Gene developed a personal relationship with Jesus and his faith grew even stronger. He had life-long friendships who kept him accountable and together they encouraged one another. He routinely attended church and loved to sing. He was never in the choir, but should have been, because he had a beautiful voice. There is no doubt he is currently raising his hands in worship and happily singing praises!
Gene had many favorite pastimes, but none as great as when he was helping with harvest. If only we all could enjoy something as much as Gene valued farming! He often helped his brothers with the crops, but also was a hired hand for a close friend, Warren Herr, for many years. His enthusiasm never wavered. Whenever Gene talked to his brothers, the important question was usually asked, “How much rain did you get?!” And of course, there was always the famous car rides going out to “crop-check” the fields! You can take the boy off the farm, but you can never take the farm out of the boy!
Gene adored his children and grandchildren and was always interested in their lives and celebrating their milestones. He was their Number #1 Fan in the bleachers watching sporting events and dance recitals. He loved being “Grandpa” and was often found on their level playing games, throwing a ball, or just goofing off with them!
Gene enjoyed being outdoors and spent time meticulously caring for the lawn or working in the garage. He kept his cars clean, and was known to go to the car wash just before visiting family in order to keep up his reputation. He took pleasure in being home and barbequing a good meal. He was an avid sports enthusiast who cheered on the Iowa Hawkeyes and his favorite NASCAR driver at the time. Gene loved to travel and has taken several trips to Key West and Hawaii with his wife, Vicki. He always had fun boating and enjoyed many family vacations over the years on the peaceful lakes of northern Minnesota. He once volunteered to drive a straight truck to Fort Lauderdale, FL that was shipped on the ocean to Haiti to missionaries who were digging water wells for a church and a school. That was an adventure!
More recent travel included driving to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX for cancer treatment. Gene and Vicki made this trip 10 separate times every two months to see a cholangiocarcinoma specialist not found in Iowa. All the while, Gene never complained about having this cancer or asked, “Why me?” During these visits, Gene enjoyed sight-seeing along the way, such as Table Rock Lake, Hot Springs, Waco, and Galveston. He loved discovering the United States and seeing new territory. He especially loved exploring Civil War battlefields, and would read every single word found on the posted memorials and markers much to Vicki’s dismay!
Gene was very patriotic! He believed in supporting our troops, faithfully flying the flag, and celebrating national holidays. Gene liked watching military movies and reading books, especially those that reflected the time he served in Vietnam. He always wanted others to know that “Freedom is not Free” and now Gene has given his all.
Left to cherish Gene’s memory is his wife of more than 35 years, Vicki; his daughter, Susan Steingreaber, (significant other Chris Hanson); his son, John Lickteig, (wife Michelle); grandchildren Jacob Steingreaber, Sophia Steingreaber, Mary Elizabeth Lickteig, and Jack Lickteig. Gene also leaves behind his loving siblings; Richard Lickteig, (wife Delores) of Algona; Anita Campbell, of Saylor Township; Michael Lickteig (wife Shirley) of Perry; Coleen Kollasch, (husband Larry) of Algona; Carol Plathe, of Algona; and Merle (Bud) Lickteig, of Algona. Gene was also a devoted uncle to 23 nieces and nephews, and 41 great nieces and nephews, and 4 great-great nieces and nephews. He was a special godfather to Joseph Lickteig, Melissa (Lickteig) Bower and to Zachary Lickteig. Gene also graciously accepted the invitation years ago to be an adopted grandfather to two children, Alyssa and Nathan Peterson, who needed a grandpa!
In heaven, Gene joyfully joins his parents, Dennis and Luella (Waldschmidt) Lickteig, whose ages at death were 97 and 100 years; brother-in-law David Campbell; brother-in-law Dale Plathe; and an infant great niece Lucy Lickteig.
Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same, but as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again.
Memorial contributions may be given to the family who will direct donations to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation and to Wounded Warriors.
Visitation will be at Ernst Funeral Home, 80 NE Dartmoor Drive, Waukee, IA on Tuesday, January 2, 2024 from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm with a time of prayer and memory sharing from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Funeral Service will be at Living Faith Lutheran Church, 2180 NW 142nd Street, Clive, IA on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, 11:00 am. Lunch will be provided at the church following the Funeral Service.
Burial will be at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery, 34024 Veterans Memorial Drive, Adel, IA on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at 2:00pm.
A special thank you to:
- Dr. Milind M. Javle, MD and his Team at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX
- Dr. Steven P. Heddinger, MD and his Team at John Stoddard Cancer Center in Des Moines, IA
- Iowa Methodist Medical Center, especially the Oncology Unit on Powell 3, as well as the Interventional Radiology Team, for their excellent care and compassion for Gene in recent months
- All of our family members and friends, who have offered love, support, prayers and the many greeting cards throughout Gene’s illness. We cannot thank all of you enough!
For additional information on Bile Duct Cancer affecting veterans, please see the following articles: