Cover photo for William "Bill" H.  Hoople's Obituary
William "Bill" H.  Hoople Profile Photo
1938 William "Bill" 2023

William "Bill" H. Hoople

March 26, 1938 — June 14, 2023

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the unexpected passing of William “Bill” H. Hoople of Rockton, IL. He passed away on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in Javon Bea Hospital at the age of 85. Bill was born in Rockford on March 26, 1938, the son of Bert and Gert (Ruefer) Hoople. He married Patricia Melin on July 27, 1968. He was honored to be a veteran of the Army and was a proud business owner for 59 years.

He is survived by his loving wife of nearly 55 years, Pat; his twin children, Fred (Kathy) Hoople and Dana (Michael O’Malley) Schmidt; his grandchildren, Garrett, Cameron and Sidney Schmidt, Stephanie and Tristan Hoople and Kane Keeling; his brother, Allen (Sue) Hoople; his nieces and nephews, Ben (Anne), Stephen, Kyle (Laura), and Sam Johnston, Nathan (Susan) Hoople and Erin (David Loken) Hoople; and numerous friends and family, including his best friend, (since 3rd grade), Gene Harris; his favorite cousin and friend, Jim Johnson; and his special friend Kelly Hare who provided a “Let’s solve the world’s problems” session on Sundays. Predeceased by his parents and his sister and brother-in-law, Carol and Bill Johnston and numerous others that were part of this wonderful family.

Through sheer hard work and dedication, Bill provided a wonderful life for himself and his family. From his first jobs as a child, walking the neighbor’s show hogs, and working on the family farm, to joining the Army, working at Dean Foods, bartending, starting his own business, Wayne’s Feed Store, to purchasing his own farm and becoming a partner with his family in the purchase of Didier Greenhouses. The lesson we should take from his work ethic and dedication is that he absolutely loved what he did, as we all should in our own lives. Wayne’s Feed Store, especially, was his passion. He truly enjoyed every day.

His most repeated phrase of “May I help you” is much more than just words. It is much more than just a phrase that is said in the retail industry. He meant it. He truly enjoyed helping each and every customer that walked through those doors. It gave him happiness and great satisfaction. As a result, many, many of those customers became his extended family. Parents would come with their children just to visit the fish, rabbits, baby chicks and reptiles. They were greeted with that same smile and warmth whether they were buying something or just entertaining their kids. He provided knowledge on how to plant your grass or your garden, what fertilizer to use, what fish you should get for your tank or which dog treats you should bring home to your pup. He provided all of this with genuineness, laughter and a smile.

After growing up on his family farm, he was so proud to purchase his own with his wife Pat. Over the years, they had cattle, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, horses, geese, goats, too many barn cats to mention, draft mules and draft horses. Having cattle grazing on his pastures always put a smile on his face.

His love of animals extended into wildlife as well. He assisted Pat, a licensed rehabilitator, with the caring for and helping of countless animals. Everything from owls, hawks, raccoons, bunnies and squirrels to deer, fox and even a family of skunks. They took care of them all.

Bill was able to squeeze in a few hobbies as well. At a young age, he spent many hours at the table trying to win a hand of bridge with his parents and family. He had fond memories of many adventures with Gene and Gail Harris in Bill’s iceboat on Lake Geneva. The story goes that blackberry brandy and chili were always a follow-up. He grew up hunting and the occasional (this term is used loosely) prank pulling with his favorite people, accomplices and cousins, Jim Johnson and Jack Wilson. He was a former 4-H member and Winnebago County 4-H supporter. He was a Westside Business Association leader and member and believed wholeheartedly in supporting small businesses, especially on the west side of Rockford. He loved cooking and trying new recipes. He often made big batches so you ate it for several days, whether you liked it or not, or in the freezer it went. (There’s still split pea soup and roast in the freezer. Best ever!) He enjoyed reading and sharing books with others and watching car races on TV at all hours of the day (personal thank you to Bose from Pat for creating noise cancelling headphones for the TV). He loved planting trees, flowers and vegetables, and sharing his asparagus from his patch. (Gotta say, he didn’t quite gain a passion for weeding though!)

Bill was a proud son of hard working parents. He was a proud husband to a dedicated and caring wife. He was a proud parent of two children, giving it their best shot at following in his footsteps. Bill was a proud grandparent who gained immense pleasure from his grandchildren’s accomplishments. He was a proud business owner of two businesses that have teammates that he knew he could count on. Bill was that proud friend that could say, with a huge smile on his face, “I know that person!”, and then proceed to share a wonderful story or two about them.

Bill was that go-to person for Pat, Fred and Dana for all business questions, life in general issues, and to bounce ideas off of. His opinion mattered. It mattered not just to his family, but to his friends as well.

In honor of Bill, find that passion so that each day is enjoyable no matter what you do. Don’t let the stresses of life wear you down. “Just relax… It will be ok”, as he always said. And you just do it, like he did. And you do it well. So work hard, work with pride, enjoy the little things in life, plant something, listen to Tennessee Ernie Ford sing Mule Train, drink a can of Red Bull (not recommended by his family, however, Red Bull will be feeling the sales loss after Bill’s passing) and remember Bill… and remember him well.

In lieu of flowers, please complete a special “random act of kindness” in Bill’s memory. Then please share your act online at or with his family directly. May the doing and sharing of these acts of kindness, bring all that knew him peace.

A memorial visitation will be held from 2:00 P.M. until 4:00 P.M. on Sunday, June 25, 2023, at Fitzgerald Funeral Home and Crematory, Riverside Chapel, 3910 N. Rockton Av. Rockford. Share online condolences at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William "Bill" H. Hoople, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Visitation

Sunday, June 25, 2023

2:00 - 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory - Riverside Chapel

3910 North Rockton Avenue, Rockford, IL 61103

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 58

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree