Aviation aftermarket veteran R. Gene House, widely known for his distinguished career at United Airlines, died on Jan. 19. He began his career in 1967 as an aircraft interiors engineer at United’s San Francisco based Technical Operations headquarters, where he remained throughout his 40-plus year career with the airline.
House held a variety of leadership positions within Technical Operations, including finance, purchasing, component operations and line maintenance planning—as well as serving as managing director of United Services.
House’s technical talent was evident, as was the fact he was a people person.
Ron Utecht, who met House at a United management training class in 1966, says “Geno was a master at getting people together and helping them find a common ground to begin to build long-lasting friendships. As a sales guy, Geno was always more concerned about the relationship with the customer.”
After retiring, Timco Aviation hired both Utecht and House in 2005. House served as chief marketing officer, where he helped restore and grow the brand’s reputation as a respected and dependable provider of airframe maintenance services to operators around the world.
Aviation Week awarded House the MRO Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 for his industry accomplishments.
"Gene undoubtedly knew more people worldwide across our industry than anyone else I know. This was attributable to a magnetic and energetic personality, with so many diverse interests and talents, that it was always a pleasure to be with him. He was always the life of any gathering and the source of a lot of laughter and joy. Gene cared genuinely about so many of us in the industry and he will be missed for sure. A great contributor in life and across the aviation industry,” says Chris Doan, another long-time industry veteran and recently retired from Oliver Wyman.
House was also an outspoken critic of the MRO industry’s failure to more fully embrace the importance of vastly increasing the role of women through all aspects of MRO. As he said in early January, “There remains far more to be done in balancing MRO leadership diversity more equitably to the great benefit of the industry--worldwide.”
As Vicki Bretthauer, who House hired in 1991 as part of the maintenance leadership and who later was DHL Airways COO, says, “Gene House always approached issues-challenges from a different perspective and so his solutions were that much better--more avant garde! He was always a visionary. And, he always wanted women on his team.”
Ray Valeika, who formerly led Delta TechOps and knew House well, says “There are many platitudes about his integrity, intelligence, and all, but my most important thought of him was that not only was he sharp, but most importantly he was a gentleman and a fine person. He always was a pleasure to be around from business and social aspects, and mostly someone who I respected unconditionally,”
After retiring, House had time to develop his creative talent and became a prolific artist.
“Most people who knew Gene probably didn't know he always carried a camera and a sketch book. If he had time he would often sketch the world as he saw it and maybe take a photo so he could finish his sketch later. This, I think was his passion to express his love of what he saw in the world,” says Utecht.
“And there is no way I can say much about Geno without talking about the love of his life Rhowyn! Never have I met two people who are one when they are together,” he says.