Orville Gene Canull, 85, passed away Saturday, January 18, 2020, at Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast. He spent his final days surrounded by loved ones, continuing to smile and pick on people. Gene was born February 12, 1934, in Illinois to Hayward James Canull and Reba Mae Burke. He was Assembly of God by faith, serving as a board member for Victory Lighthouse in Mossy Head and as a commander mentoring Royal Rangers boys. Gene was a U.S. Marine, serving his country as a machine gunner in the Korean War. He earned a Purple Heart. Gene cut fire lines in California with his Native American family, helped build the Alaskan Pipeline, was known as "Squint" with the original Hell's Angels, conjured a demon as a warlock, raised thousands of rabbits in Liberty, worked on both sides of the law, and worked as an off-shore cook on oil rigs. Because of that, he could not cook for just two. Wes and Gene picking bar fights left him with few teeth, but great stories. Gene loved going to yard sales and restoring old John Deer tractors with his brother Omer .But the most important day of his life was actually a night working at the LP lumber mill in Lockhart, Alabama. In what is an amazing testimony, he met Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior, in February of 1993. This changed his life so much, even his voice and look were different. He was surely born again, a new creation. He is predeceased by his father and mother; brothers James Richard and Omer Dall Canull; Betty Harrison and husband Bill; sons Terry and Gary Canull; sister Patsy Marie Martin and husband Jack; and special friends Wes Grounds and wife Alieen.
Gene is survived by his wife of 35 years, Clara Childs Canull. He loved her and even managed to get one last gentle kick, picking on her from his hospital bed. He is also survived by the following: children Barbara Chilcutt and husband Kevin, Candace Serna, Craig Willey and wife Marina, Shana Burda, and Kenneth Willey and wife Nicole; grandchildren Raymond, Melissa, Rosann, James, Kenneth, Gary Gene, Christopher, Ricky Gene, Ryan,Travis, Michelle, Adam, Alexander, Chris, Nicholas, Hunter, Nadine, Grant, and Ember as well as 10 great-grandchildren; and sisters Dixie Lenseigne and husband Steve, Sharon Gaither and husband Terry, and Kathy Butler and husband Ray. He is also survived by special friend Arron Boartfield and wife Darlene and many other family and friends he loved, plus a few he tolerated.
The family and friends were invited to a veteran Honor Walk at Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast at 1:30 Sunday, January 19, as Jerry Evans escorted him to the Funeral Home on Walton Road. A memorial service was held at 3:00 P.M. with Reverend Aaron Boartfield officiating.
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