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1918 Vernon 2018

Vernon Leroy Goethe

May 5, 1918 — October 12, 2018

Vernon LeRoy Goethe, 100, passed away peacefully Friday, October 12, 2018, in Rockford, IL. Born May 5, 1918, in Cedarville, IL, to LeRoy and Mabel (Borger) Goethe.

Raised in the Freeport area, Vernon was the oldest child of four. He grew up on a hatchery farm and forever refused to eat chicken as a result. Growing up, he loved math and enjoyed all sports. Tennis was his favorite sport to play, however, and he continued to play into his 90s. He even won tennis tournaments for his age group in a retirement community in Florida! Vernon was an avid reader and enjoyed keeping up with the news and city wide changes. An eternal promoter of the Rockford area, he relished sharing community information and routes with others. He liked nothing better than driving people around to see the sights that Northern Illinois has to offer, especially Freeport and Union Dairy Farms. Blessed with a quick wit, he was the ultimate Tour Guide with interesting stories. When he wasn’t touring around, he had a passion for gardening and flowers.

Vernon graduated from Aquin High School in 1934 and went to Brown’s Business College where he learned accounting and shorthand. He was a veteran of World War II where his shorthand came in handy. Mainly stationed in Newfoundland, he used his math and business skills to do code work for the US Army Signal Corps. He married the love of his life, Helen Murphy, on May 15, 1944. They raised 6 children on the east side of Rockford and instilled an appreciation for travel in each one of them, always interested to see the pictures when they returned. He worked for years and retired from McFarland’s on Rockford’s west side. After retiring, he and Helen enjoyed travelling and spending time in Florida in the winter. They were devoted to their children and grandchildren and journeyed to visit them often. Even at 100, Vernon still drove daily and had an impeccable memory for every place that he had been.
Vernon lived a full and varied life. Although he will be greatly missed, he is overjoyed to be reunited with Helen, his wife of 69 years.

Vernon is survived by his children, Mary Lou (Eric) Nordstrom, Racine, WI; Dolores (Jim) Hollingsed, Evergreen Park, IL; Ron Goethe, Jerry (Robin) Goethe, and daughter-in-law Cathy Goethe, all of Rockford; brother, Calvin (Mary) of Lakeland, Florida; 11 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, and friends. He was predeceased by his parents; siblings Dorothy (Jim) Dillon, L’Ssunda (Lauren) Howe; wife Helen; daughter Barbara (Donn Woodworth); and oldest son Paul.

Mass will be 11 a.m. Saturday, October 20, 2018 at St. Rita Catholic Church, 6254 Valley Knoll Dr, Rockford, IL 61109. Visitation from 10:00 a.m. until time of Mass. Burial in Calvary Catholic Cemetery. Arrangements by Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory, 1860 S. Mulford Rd., Rockford, IL 61108. Send online condolences at

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, October 20, 2018

10:00 - 10:45 am (Eastern time)

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Funeral Mass

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Winnebago/Rockford

8616 West State Road, Winnebago, IL 61088

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