Eugene “Gene” Burgad passed away in Billings on Aug. 14, 2019, at the age of 68. Born in San Diego, California, to Raymond and Regina Burgad, he was one of two siblings. Gene was a world traveler. At 21, he moved to Europe, where he worked on sailing boats in Greece; for the US military in Garmisch Parten-Kirchen, Germany; and on the ski lifts in Davos, Switzerland, where he met his future wife. They have been married for 33 years and have one daughter.
Gene was well known in the Billings community as a business leader and owner/manager of The Rex Restaurant for 34 years. He was instrumental in helping establish the historic Montana Avenue district. He was a great supporter of MSU-Billings Foundation Wine Fest. He was recognized by the Billings Chamber of Commerce for his efforts to make Billings a ONEderful place to live. He was a co-founder of the Magic City Blues Fest, which started in 2002 and still takes place at the Rex property. He served on the boards of the Montana Restaurant Association, Billings Depot, and Alberta Bair Theater among others.
Gene loved life. He was a musician, a food and wine connoisseur and storyteller who loved to entertain. He was happiest being surrounded by his customers, friends and family. He could light up a room with his incandescent humor. He began his restaurant management career at the Depot Restaurant in Missoula before moving to Billings and opening the Rex Restaurant in April of 1983. He had a kind of charisma that appealed to all ages. He will be sorely missed by all of those whose lives he touched.
He is survived by his wife Ann Clancy and his daughter Coco Burgad; his sister Patricia (Burgad) Trandal, brother-in-law Dave Trandal, and nephew David Trandal.
A public memorial service will be announced in the fall.