Noah “Gene” Hite was born on January 15, 1931. His family was from Gilbert. The youngest of five siblings, he was born in Charlotte, North Carolina as the family had moved there seeking work in the Ford automotive plant. After five years, the family returned to Gilbert where his father worked as a farmer.
On July 23, 1948, prior to the beginning of the Korean war, Gene joined the Navy. Family legend has it that the tall young man was so thin he was disqualified as he failed to make the Navy weight minimum requirement. It was suggested that he eat bananas to gain weight quickly. The family has always imagined a young, very
thin Gene eating bunch after bunch of bananas. Gene took this advice and the following day became a proud member of the United States Navy. He loved to reminisce about his Navy days with stories about time-off in Italy and the cold, cold days and nights running the small landing boat containing troops and equipment to and from shore and the ship. He often said he had never experienced such bone-chilling cold.
It was while he was in the Navy that he met his first wife, Arline Gardner, in Newport, Rhode Island. Gene and Arline married in 1951 in Columbia South Carolina.
In 1952 they moved to Southern California where they raised three children. Gene began working at Anaconda American Brass in Paramount, California. He worked many jobs at the large steel factory including welder, maintenance mechanic, and overhead crane operator. He became involved in the company union and was elected president of the United Steelworkers of America AFL-CIO Steelworker’s Local. In 1975, while working under a forklift, the forklift vibrated off the jacks and caught him on his left side trapping him underneath. It was four hours until the forklift could be safely removed during which time he lapsed in and out of consciousness. His left shoulder was broken—narrowly missing his heart—and his left heel was crushed. He underwent surgery and was lucky to have survived the near-fatal industrial accident. After several more surgeries and many months, he recovered and was ultimately able to walk again with only a slightly perceptible limp.
He retired from Anaconda but continued working as the president of the local. During his tenure as president, he supported his coworkers with their grievances and worked to increase their pay and benefits. He made a difference in the lives of many. He also attended many union meetings across the country and has a picture seated at a table across from the then-Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey.
He and Arline divorced in 1978. Several years later he married Addie Lowe. He and Addie moved from Southern California to Batesburg, South Carolina. Gene then opened the ill-fated and controversial (notorious?) “Noah’s Ark” in Leesville. “Noah’s Ark” was a steak restaurant and night club. After a few years of operation, the business closed due to a fire in the building, and Gene retired from the restaurant industry.
After having divorced from Addie in 1984, Gene moved to the “Blue House” (Gene’s favorite color) in Gilbert which had been the Hite family home. This house had been purchased in 1945 by Gene’s older brother, Morris, and many years earlier Gene purchased the vacant house from his brother. Gene enjoyed living in Gilbert and became good friends with the local neighbors.
In 1990 Gene married Louise Pilot. Gene and Louise lived in Gilbert for a short time but ultimately moved to a house on Lake Murray. He enjoyed fishing and playing golf. He and Louise were members of the Ponderosa Country Club. Gene joined the Lake Murray Seniors Bass Club fishing club and was a proud charter member of VFW Post 6740. He dabbled in buying and selling cars and enjoyed going to the auto auction. Gene fully enjoyed retirement life living on the lake; his life was active and he met several neighbors who became Gene’s dearest friends. He treasured the friendship, companionship, and camaraderie of these days.
Gene became a member of St. James Lutheran Church. As a child, the family had attended St. James, and Gene became an active church member. He served as a member of the council and participated in the men’s group, Sunday school, Sunday services, and, of course, lunch after church. Gene especially enjoyed eating at his cousin’s restaurant after church, Hite’s Barbeque.
In 2013, he and Louise divorced and Gene moved to a house on the lake just a few coves away. As he got older he gave up golf but continued to enjoy fishing.
Gene Hite is survived by his three children John, Nora, and Vickie; his grandsons John Jr. and Jason; his great-grandchildren Raiah and little Noah; his sole surviving sibling Dorothy Harmon; his children( and grandchild) in-law Joe Vela, Anna Hite and Kimi Hite; his closest family member Elaine Rodgers; friends-that-are-like-family Byron Chafin, Danny Grover, and Mike Brentlinger; and finally his constant companion, his Maltipoo Coco.
On May 13, 2020, Noah Gene Hite passed away due to complications from hip surgery at Lexington Medical Center. He lived a long and full life with fond memories of his family and many, many friends. If you knew Gene, you would likely agree that “he was something”! He will be missed by many.
In place of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made in his name.
Thank you all for all your support.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Noah Gene Hite, please visit our floral store.