Personal Histories

Gene Wise MM1/c

Gene was born February 24, 1920 in Anderson, Indiana. Both of his parents had died by the time Gene was 16, and he lived with his grandparents and worked on their farm until he graduated from Frankton High in 1938.

In 1939 he left Anderson to go work as an apprentice machinist for Hoyt Machine Co., then to Ertel Machine and eventually to Curtiss Wright.

In 1941 he married his first wife, and a son Garry was born to them in 1942. Gene enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942 with rank of Fireman First Class and was sent to Iceland where he served almost a year. He was then reassigned to the destroyer USS Hadley and was promoted to First Class Petty Officer and sent to the Pacific war zone. He ship was one of many attacked by Japanese Kamikaze planes on May 11, 1945 and Gene found himself swimming the Pacific Ocean. He was lucky to have survived the attack without suffering any serious injuries since all of his fire room crew was killed. He was discharged in 1945 and returned to Elwood, Indiana. Shortly after his return home, the married came to an end.

He found work as a tool and diemaker journeyman for Anderson Tool Co. in Indiana. He later moved to West Virginia and worked as a mold maker and designer for Dunbar Glass Co. Again he moved, this time to Chicago. Here he married his second wife. He worked for Sweitzer- Conrad Co. as a designer of machinery and special machinery devices. His daughter Linda was born in 1946. In 1952 they moved to Glendale, CA to get away from the harsh Chicago winters. Shortly after, their second daughter Susan was born in 1952. In 1955 they bought a home in Redondo Beach, CA, later one in the San Fernando Valley. He worked as a supervisor of Research at-Canoga Corp., and in 1961 he joined R&G Sloane Mfg. Co. in Sun Valley as their design supervisor, and eventually to Plastic Systems, Inc. in Santa Ana. He worked until 1976 when he semi-retired.

Through out the years, Gene has owned many businesses — Wise Two Cycle Engine, Bultaco Western, Aero Antiques, Bicycle World, and Dynamic Products. His hobbies (reflected in his business ventures) have included speedboat racing, and motorcycle road racing. H has built rep1icas of the Bowers Fly Baby and the Demoselle planes. He owned and flew a 1948 Piper plane. He also designed and built the first powered ultralight hang gliders — the Why Knot and Condor I and II.

Gene won the Federation International Motorcycle 125cc championship in 1959 and served as president of this organization for two years. In 962 he won the CA State 125cc motorcycle road racing championship, and in 1963 he won the U.S. Grand Prix 50cc championship. He gave up motorcycle racing at the age of 43.

While working at R&G Sloane, Gene met Sarah (lucky him?). They became involved in building the ultralights and decided to semi-retire to Grass Valley where the plans were to manufacture them. The move to Grass Valley was made in March 1977. Shortly thereafter the plans for the ultralights came to a sudden halt for many reasons. In 1978 Gene answered an ad for a Mechanical Engineer/Design Supervisor at Cyan, who turned out to be the “skunk works” for Atari. This was to be Gene’s last full time position due to serious health problems starting with a massive heart attack in 1979.

Other side jobs Gene has had included writing feature articles for HOT ROD magazine, and being technical editor for KART and CAR CRAFT magazines. Besides his racing championship trophies, Gene has a CA Adult Teaching Certificate in drafting and design, a U.S.Navy Graduate Certificate in steam engineering, and has 15 patents for various plastic products in daily use. He also was the recipient of the Purple Heart and, the Presidential Unit Citation for his navy service.

Besides his son and two daughters, Gene has 7 natural grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren, as well as 2 stepsons, 2 step grandchildren and one great grandchild.

His interests today are gardening, fishing, and working in his garage machine shop rebuilding antique outboard engines and motorcycles. He has had to forsake his camping, traveling and motorcycle riding because of health problems, his own as well as Sarah’s.

Oh yes, Sarah has made him a bocce ball enthusiast. We have played at tournaments in Reno and Redding, and have placed first. Of course there are others that “we also ran”, but we do have fun and meet the greatest people!

Wife Sarah reports that Gene passed away July 27, 2002. They were residing in Grass Valley, CA.