Born in 1923 to Joseph and Rose D’Angelo in their North Street, Marion Heights home, Gene was the youngest of their four children and only daughter. She was an incredibly bright child, earning perfect grades throughout her Kulpmont Public School years, and voraciously reading whatever books were available.
Gene met her one and only love, Vincent “Bill” Makowski in the first grade, when he tugged at her braids to get her attention. The two remained acquaintances throughout their school years. After Gene graduated as valedictorian of her 1940 Kulpmont senior class, Bill — a college freshman — asked her on a date, launching their 81-year romance.
The pair continued their courtship long distance, as Gene entered business school at what is now Strayer University in Philadelphia, and Bill completed his degree at Penn State. Both joined the growing war effort, with Bill commissioned as an Army Air Corp officer and navigator stationed in Italy, and Gene recruited by the War Department to transcribe intercontinental communications for its Philadelphia operations depot.
Shortly after V-E Day, Gene and Bill both returned to Marion Heights, with the two marrying in July 1945. Gene subsequently served as the executive assistant to the president of the Guarantee Trust and Safe Deposit Co., supporting Bill as he completed law school.
With the arrival of their first child, Gene ended her business career and began her new one as family matriarch, bearing six more children over 17 years. The burgeoning family moved from Marion Heights to Coal Township in 1966, to a new home that Gene helped to design. Over the following decades, Gene took on many roles in support of her extended family: adoring wife; attentive daughter, affectionate mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, godmother, and aunt; confidante, coach, chauffeur, cheerleader, doctor, devotionist, baker, chef, counselor, carpenter, referee, disciplinarian, accountant, engineer, editor, gardener, mechanic, precant, production assistant, political advisor, humorist, hugger, seamstress, teacher, tutor, travel agent, advocate, volunteer, philanthropist, mentor and miracle worker.
Gene always welcomed friends, extended family, and neighbors into her home, with all treated to her sweet smile and warm hospitality. Everyone raved about Gene’s cooking, largely Italian and Polish family recipes passed down through generations. She poured her unconditional love into every meal and was considered by her children to be “the world’s bestest cooker.” Children and grandchildren often received care packages from Gene containing their favorite family fare, and a note of encouragement as they moved out of the area for college or work.
Gene made special occasions, birthdays, and holidays — especially Christmas — memorable and festive, with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all returning from across the country to celebrate. She was a steadfast volunteer for Our Lady of Hope parish and her children’s schools. In addition, she and her husband helped establish Manna for the Many.
Despite working and caring for family from dawn to dusk, Gene always made time for handholding and eye-gazing with Bill, prayers to her patron saint Padre Pio, a piece of milk chocolate, a review of the day’s headlines and word scramble, a decade of rosary beads, and a chapter from a few good novels, every single day.
While being and doing many things for many people, Gene — above all else — was patient, kind, selfless, and deeply loved by all who knew her.
She was a true, living saint who will be sorely missed by all she leaves behind, most especially her adored Bill and her loving brood, her seven children and their spouses: Margaret and Frank Konopka of Shamokin, Teresa and Frank Peters of Tennessee, Mary and Charles Anoia of North Carolina, Joseph and Kim Makowski of Virginia, Gregory Wellman of Maine, Thomas and Denise Makowski of Shamokin, and Larry and Brad Seamans of Massachusetts; 17 grandchildren and step grandchildren and their spouses, Damian, Gena (Ronald Mancini) and Amanda (David Logic) Konopka; Nathan (Racheal) and Jeremy (Laurie) Peters; Sean (Lori), Ryan (Lynn) and Michael (Paige) Patrick; Matthew (Dani Vodak), Jonathan (Gillian DiMarzio), Lindsay, Alex (Maryam) and Evan (Nicholas) Makowski; Alex (Holly) and Lindsay Deppen; and Shawn and Alex Seamans; 18 great-grandchildren and step great-grandchildren, Emma and Abby Konopka; Tilly and Mazzie Mancini; Rowan and Griffin Peters; Lauren, Erika, Marleigh, Madden and Macon Patrick; Savannah Makowski; Jackie, Maura and Lucy Smith; Ava and Ela Perkins; and Kane…