Gene McKinley Williamson, 81, of Whittier, passed away on March 22, 2021. Born April 24, 1939, in Linville, NC, he was the son of the late Winston McKinley Williamson and Letha Rogers Williamson, and the grandson of the late Jess Williamson and Roxie Blankenship Williamson. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served overseas from 1957-59 and subsequently in the Army Reserve. A lifelong North Carolinian and graduate of Western Carolina University, Gene enjoyed a decades-long career in public service at the Jackson County Department of Social Services. Gene was known as a gifted and accomplished musician, and his joys in life were the pedal steel guitar, the mountains of his beloved western North Carolina and his family and close friends. Gene was a kind and gentle soul, and although a man of few words, he had a sharp and quick wit shared easily and often with his inner circle. Surviving to cherish his memory are his brother, Boyd Williamson (Ava) of Atlanta; sister, Polly (Robert) Owen of Whittier; nieces Shannon Williamson Gallo (Vince) of Winston-Salem; Blakely Williamson of Chapel Hill; and nephews Mike Owen (Kathy) of Charlotte; and Maxie Laney (Jessica) and Jason Williamson of Atlanta. Services are scheduled for Saturday, March 27, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. at Crisp Funeral Home in Bryson City, and the family will receive friends from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Burial will take place at Sherrill Cemetery in Whittier immediately following the funeral service. Pallbearers will be Bob Fouts, Gerald Reagan, Keith Moore, Chris Green, Brody Sitton and Scott Ogle.