It was Gene and Mary who enticed me to live in Bluff where I stayed for 12 memorable years as a teacher, EMT, photographer and journalist. During return trips every few years my wife, Vivian, and I continued to enjoy their from-the-heart hospitality.
In the late 1950s Gene and Mary had a prophecy of turning an unincorporated dusty blip along a seldom traveled roadway into a place for travelers to stop and gain an appreciation of the seemingly barren land.
Gene was a visionary. There was virtually nothing Gene couldn’t fix and if needed, concoct. He created the Recapture Lodge, a rustic inn where one could gain an appreciation of the area’s splendor. His nightly slideshows were filled with culture, history and geology, as were his guided tours.
Gene and Mary hired Navajo workers, but more than that, taught them skills in carpentry, plumbing and life in general.
Gene saw the beauty and craftsmanship that went into the Mormon pioneer homes constructed by the brave souls who came through the Hole in the Rock in 1880, and then were abandoned and left to fall down or in some cases to burn. One by one, and brick by brick, Gene salvaged as many as he could.
Gene was both frugal and generous. Concerned about the environment as well as waste, he made sure every last crumb was consumed, or if need be, composted. He was among the first to contribute not only money or other resources, but more importantly, his time, for those in need as well as for the good of the community.
As a pilot Gene gave tourists another perspective, but perhaps his biggest aviation fans were elementary school children who saw their homes on the “Rez” from the air.
When one looks at the new homes or the fancy motel and trading post built by others, they should realize most likely none of them would be there if it were not for Gene’s foresight.
Rest in peace and thank you, my friend.
New Russia, New York
Editor's Note: The Times-Independent has learned through Alvin Reiner that Mary Foushee also died shortly after this letter was published in the Aug. 3 edition.