Gene Austin Pritchard
Gene Pritchard was born on June 29, 1923, in Los Angeles, California to Austin Henry and Vestula (Pearcy) Pritchard. He spent his early years in California, and then moved with his family back to his parents’ home state of Texas. Gene survived the Dust Bowl years in Dalhart, and tells vivid stories about living through the drought and dust storms. His family then moved to Gorman, Texas, where he spent time on his grandparent’s land during the depression. At 18, he joined the United States Army and deployed to fight in World War II in France and Germany with the Rainbow Division, Company A, 222nd Infantry. He was a machine gunner on the back of an open jeep. He earned a Bronze Star for heroic achievement in action in France on January 6, 1945. An enemy tank topped about thirty yards from his company’s position and opened fire with its machine gun and cannon upon the men in the foxholes. Gene risked direct fire from the tank and used his machine gun to fire at the wheels and track of the tank, forcing it to wi thdraw. This helped stop the penetration of the US line and saved lives of those in his company. He also received a Purple Heart for injuries in his time overseas. He returned to the states and was a carpenter for the Civilian Conservation Corp, helping to build barracks at what was then Camp Hood. He moved to Conroe, Texas, and met Jannett Sprayberry. They were married shortly thereafter. Gene and Jannett moved to Hobbs, New Mexico, where their three children were born. He then worked for Haliburton, and he encouraged Jannett to begin her college education. In 1965 the Pritchard family moved to Copperas Cove, Texas, having purchased a franchise for a Western Auto Store. He was active in the Lion’s Club, selling Christmas trees and serving in several officer positions. He was also active in the Chamber of Commerce, sponsored Little League teams and donated to many schools and groups. While running Western Auto, Gene was always open to anyone who called needing tires, batteries, or other necessities. He gave many people from Cove their first jobs and first lines of credit. Gene and Jannett were active in all of the children and grandchildren’s activities, and they could be found cheering as well as volunteering throughout the years. The family was members of Grace United Methodist Church for many years. Gene was a generous person who always thought of others before himself. He lived a simplelife, but saved to give each grandchild a generous scholarship for college. All of the grandkids loved spending time with their Granddad, and his love and devotion were shown at every possible chance. He is preceded in death by his wife of 60 years Jannett Sprayberry Pritchard, his parents Austin Henry and Vestula (Pearcy) Pritchard, and his brothers Truett and Jack Pritchard. He is survived by his sister Betty Teague, sister- in-law Jue Pritchard; son Mark Pritchard and his wife Janet, and daughters Caitlin and Kelsey and her husband David Baird; his daughter Paula Pritchard Rees and her husband Rich and their daughters Jenny and Katie; and his daughter Laura Pritchard Wyne and her husband Don and their children Sarah and Greg. He has gone to a better place, and is once again with his beloved wife Jannett. We will miss him, but know that he is at peace. Visitation will be held at Crawford Bowers Funeral Home Thursday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. A funeral service will be held Noon of Friday at Grace United Church in Copperas Cove, followed by a burial at 2.p.m. at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in memory of Gene to Grace United Methodist Church, 101 W Ave F. Copperas Cove, Texas 76522.