Gennady (Gene) Michael Novichihin
Gennady "Gene" Michael Novichihin passed away on September 7, 2017, at the age of 63 years old due to complications from his long battle with Parkinson's disease. Gene fought hard and gave 110%.
Gene was born in Krasnodar, Russia on June 9, 1954 to Michael and Maria Novichihin. Gene spent most of his childhood on the Black Sea where he spent time swimming, fishing, and being a lifeguard. While enrolled at a maritime academy, Gene, along with several other men aboard the fishing vessel Vishera, defected Soviet Russia in 1972. After spending several long harsh months at a government detention camp in Greece, Gene was granted political asylum. Faced with the opportunity to go to many different western countries Gene choose to come to America in search of his American Dream. Gene arrived in New York City, without a penny to his name and not knowing how to speak English. Shortly after his arrival to New York, Gene found work in a Russian/Ukrainian immigrant community in New Jersey. While in New Jersey, Gene met his wife of 43 years Irene Schelest Novichihin. Shortly after the birth of their first daughter, Tania Novichihin Kleinschmit, Gene and Irene decided to leave New Jersey and follow their American dream further. They packed up their van, their daughter, and drove across the United States eventually ending up in Oregon. Gene and Irene settled in Woodburn, Oregon where they had made their home for nearly 35 years.
Initially, Gene found work logging, but his true calling was the sea. After mastering English and becoming a United States citizen, Gene made contact with the maritime union in Seattle and was shortly thereafter hired by Foss Maritime of Seattle, Washington. Gene started as an ordinary seaman on ocean-going tugboats for Foss. His second daughter, Larissa Novichihin McAree, was born around the time Gene made captain. He was one of the youngest men to make captain at Foss at the time and he relished the responsibility and demand of this promotion. Gene's life as a captain allowed him the opportunity that not many of us will ever have, the ability to see the world and have a job that one truly loved. Some of his favorite work locations were Panama, Hawaii, Alaska, and New Orleans. We've always knew that salt water ran through Gene's veins. Gene retired from Foss Maritime in 2002 after 27 years of service due to his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Giving up his life at sea was as devastating as his diagnosis for Gene.
When Gene was able to enjoy time at home he enjoyed boating, fishing, playing golf, hunting, target shooting, going to the Oregon Coast, and spending time with his family. Gene was a child at heart and especially loved taking his daughters, nieces, and nephew on adventures, exploring the Pacific Northwest. Gene had a widely adventurous soul and fearless spirit.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents Michael and Maria Novichihin, father-in-law Gregory Schelest, Sr., and his brother-in-law Gregory Schelest, Jr. Gene is survived by his brother Alexander and sister Luda Novichihin. Gene is also survived by his wife Irene Schelest Novichihin, daughters Tania Kleinschmit (Bill) and Larissa McAree (Paul), granddaughter Naomi Kleinschmit, and grandsons Jake and Charles McAree, mother-in-law Nina Schelest, and brother-in-law Paul Schelest, and his nieces and nephew. Gene also acted as a father figure for many men and women over the years who turned to him for support, guidance, and at times tough love.
The family would like to thank Gene's neurologist Dr. Phipps, the staff at Mt. Angel Providence Benedictine Nursing Center, the staff at Silverton Hospital, Woodburn Ambulance, and Gene's many good-hearted caretakers over the years. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Brian Grant Parkinson's Foundation (briangrant.org) or the National Rifle Association (home.nra.org).
A memorial service was held at Unger Funeral Chapel, Mt. Angel, OR on Sunday, September 10, 2017, and may we raise a glass and make a toast, Godspeed to Captain Gene as he sets sail on his final voyage.