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Soccer Loses a Legend and Mentor: Gene William Hummels Made Difference Here, There and Everywhere

Gene Hummels was my friend. He was my client. Most importantly, he was a man who made a difference in his community, with his family, friends and in the sport of soccer.

A long-time Washington Youth Soccer supporter, coach, referee and board member extraordinaire, Gene left huge impacts on this game of soccer here in our home state for more than two decades. And, by the showing of friends and family – nearly 500 who attended his services in Vancouver just recently — evidence of those impacts were very real indeed. The stories and sharing flowed from the seats, aisles and from his wife and children during his memorial.

Gene passed away Nov. 5, at the age of 62, due to complications from a stroke. Born and raised in the Vancouver, Wash., area, he was eldest of five children – and a twin to his best friend and brother, who also tragically passed recently from a stroke.

Gene graduated from Woodland High School in 1967 and attended Lewis and Clark College, then completed his bachelor's degree in zoology from Western Washington University in 1972. That same year, he began a career with Pacificorp as a Meter and Relay Technician, which lasted 35 years until his retirement in 2007. Gene married Jill Williams in 1974 – and they spent most of their married life in Vancouver, raising a son, Cameron, and daughter, Allison. Jill was the love of Gene’s life and was a real part of his volunteer soccer career. I always saw them as a tandem and I am happy to call her my friend.

Gene is the Washington Youth Soccer board member that ushered in and helped craft the largest amount of soccer sponsorship and communication tools during his long tenure – more than had ever been seen by any youth soccer organization. Under his guidance, companies like Reebok, Kellogg’s, Campbell’s, Fred Meyer, Dairy Farmers, Lee Jeans, Ivar’s, Gatorade and GTE joined Washington Youth Soccer as sponsors. He helped build Washington Youth Soccer News (which evolved into PlayOn!) into one of the largest youth soccer publications in the U.S., and was a driving force in making youth soccer marketable – with the sole focus and result of keeping fees to the youths of this state a minimum.

I loved this man and respected him. He was my client and our direct report when we first met, and I give him all the credit in shaping a real relationship between us over more than a decade. His mentorship and humor is something our company, Varsity Communications, and I will always be thankful for. But, more than anything, his cool, calm and outward friendliness is what will be his hallmark. He never met a stranger he didn’t like and he made everyone around him feel like the sun was shining on them.

Good bye, my friend. A thankful sport of soccer will be eternally grateful.

Family requests that any donations be made to the American Stroke Association at genehummelsmemorial.com or to Eisenhower Soccer Club, c/o Gene Hummels Memorial Fund, PO Box 65622, Vancouver, WA, 98665.