Gene Wopata, 87, of Independence, Mo, passed away Monday, February 25, 2013.

Gene Wopata, 87, of Independence, Mo, passed away Monday, February 25, 2013.

A visitation will be held 6:00-8:00 p.m. Friday, March 1, at Carson-Speaks Chapel; 1501 W Lexington Ave., Independence. A funeral service will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at First United Methodist Church; 400 W. Maple Ave., Independence. Burial will be at Floral Hills, Kansas City, Mo.

Gene was born January 3, 1926, in Table Rock, Neb., to Frank and Mollie (Beranek) Wopata. He lived on a farm near Dawson, Neb., and rode his bicycle to attend country school near DuBois, Neb. After graduating from Dawson High School in 1943 he attended University of Nebraska. In March of 1944, he joined the Army in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. After basic training in Camp Wolters, Texas, he joined the 42nd Rainbow Division in Camp Gruber, Okla. On Thanksgiving Day 1944, he boarded the US Black in New York Harbor. He landed in Southern France and went into combat near Strasbourg. During the Battle of the Bulge, he was wounded and captured on January 6, 1945, near Gambsheim, France. Gene was taken to Stalag IVB near Muhlberg, Germany, liberated by the Russians on April 23, and escaped and returned to American lines on May 9, 1945. He was discharged on November 24 in Fort Lewis, Wash. Gene was awarded the following: Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart. Gene later graduated with a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nebraska in July of 1949. He married Evelyn Barr in October 1951 and together they had three children. Gene retired from the American Oil Company Refinery in Sugar Creek after 30 years of service. He served many years in the Scout programs for Cubs, Boys and Girls groups; and was a member of Mic-O-Say. He was an active member and served on several committees at the First United Methodist Church. He had Lifetime Memberships to the DAV, VFW, American Legion, Ex-Prisoners of War, Purple Heart and Rainbow Division. Gene enjoyed traveling, having been in all 50 states, many of the European countries and most of the Caribbean Islands. After losing his first “Angel,” Evelyn, to cancer in 1996, he met his second “Angel,” Yvonne Brice. They were engaged for many years.

Gene is survived by son, Steven Wopata and wife Kristy of Lee's Summit, Mo.; son, John Wopata and wife Jeri of Kansas City, Mo.; daughter Susan Wopata of Independence, Mo.; seven grandchildren Ryan, Kyle, and Mollie; Matthew, Daniel, Mark, and Julia. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, and had no siblings.

In lieu of flowers, please send memorial gifts to First United Methodist Church of Independence, Mo., or to Heart of America Ex-POW; 804 N. Pawnee, Independence, MO 64056. Online condolences may be made to the family at

Arrangements: Carson-Speaks Chapel, 816-252-7900.

Click here to send flowers