Jan. 2, 1920 – Jan. 22, 2012
The “Greatest Generation” lost one of its stars with the death of Eugene J. Baroni on Jan. 22. He celebrated his 92nd birthday on Jan. 2. Gene suffered a devastating fall on Jan. 11 resulting in a brain injury from which he did not recover.
Gene’s life was marked by two great loves: his family and the American pastime – baseball. He was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 2, 1920 the first child of Sam and Philomena Baroni. Twin brothers Tony and John, who predeceased him, joined the family a few years later.
He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1938 and joined Western Electric as a cable splicer. During World War II, he joined the Army and served in India and Burma. He was a technical sergeant providing communications support to elements of the famed Merrill’s Marauders battalion.
Returning home, he met and married the love of his life Barbara Jane Baroni in 1948. They had three children: Sandra, Janice and Richard. Janice died while still an infant; Richard passed away in 2001.
Gene retired from Western Electric in 1985. Gene and Barbara enjoyed a lasting marriage until her death on Dec. 26, 2007.
Gene’s other great love was baseball. He was a high school star who had dreams of playing in the major leagues. He was scouted by the St. Louis Cardinals and was to have signed with the AAA Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels. His Army commitment intervened and he never returned to this level of competition. He played and managed semi-pro ball until his mid-50s and was a life long Anaheim Angels fan.
He had many stories and entertained his family with lots of memories. His first was being quarantined due to an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1922. His war experiences and, of course, baseball were frequent topics. He was a gruff mentor with a heart of gold.
Gene is survived by daughter Sandi MacKinnon (Bruce) of Reno, Nev.; grandsons Robert Bodkin, Jason Baroni and Joshua Baroni, all of northern Nevada; and great granddaughters Seativa Gomez, Madison Baroni, Emily Baroni also of northern Nevada.
Services were held at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Montrose; interment is at the Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, Calif.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the World War II Museum, P.O. Box 97336, Washington DC 20090-7336.
Crippen Mortuary Directors