Eugene “Gene” Cernan, the last astronaut to set foot on the moon, died Monday, Jan. 16. He was also a man who set foot many times in Allegan after marrying Janis Jones, a 1958 Allegan High School graduate. “In the mid-1980s he would fly his twin-engine Cessna up from Texas to play golf with the Zeb Jones family around the Fourth of July holiday,” said former Allegan airport manager Lou Thierwechter. “Gene was a good person; always willing to accommodate any reasonable request and he once helped me to do a military presentation on the Riverfront for the veterans on the 4th one year.” When asked for an autographed picture, Cernan gave Thierwechter a photo of his moon landing and wrote: “Lou, see I’ve been other places besides Allegan.” Cernan told Thierwechter his most impressive experience was the memory of standing on the moon and looking back at the Earth, knowing he was a part of its history. “He referred to the moon as a ‘stairway to the stars’ and his last trip as ‘a pilot’s dream,’” Thierwechter said. Bobbie Jones Elliott, Janis’ sister and a1956 AHS grad, said Gene had a very good connection to Allegan and he thought very highly of Thierwechter. “He’d come to visit my parents on the Fourth of July and Lou would make the arrangements,” she said. “He also played golf with many of the locals at the country club.” Cernan, who died at age 82, joined NASA in 1963 as part of the Gemini program. He first went to space as a crew member of Gemini 9A on June 3, 1966, when he became the second American and the third person ever to exit a spacecraft while in orbit. He then became one of only two astronauts to fly to the moon twice. As the lunar module pilot of Apollo 10 in May 1969, he paved the way for Apollo 11’s landing two months later. He became commander of Apollo 17 in December 1972, the last moon mission to date. Cernan and his Apollo 17 crew member Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt spent more than 73 hours on the moon’s surface. “America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow,” Cernan said during his last steps on the moon. “As we leave the moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind.” Cernan co-wrote his autobiography in 1999, “The Last Man on the Moon.” A documentary based on his book was released in 2016. Documenting Cernan’s part in mankind’s greatest adventure, the trailer can be viewed at http://thelast manonthemoon.com/trailer. Michael Jones, a 1963 AHS grad who now lives in Houston, said his sister met Cernan when she moved to Houston and that’s where NASA operated at the Johnson Space Center. “Although he was a Purdue grad and from Illinois, he wanted to be buried in Texas,” Jones said. “That’s where he worked his whole adult life and had a NASA-affiliated business.” Viewing is Monday, Jan. 23; the funeral is Tuesday, and burial will be Wednesday in Austin, Texas, Jones said. Cernan and Janis had three daughters and one grandchild.