Cover photo for William  J. Demarco's Obituary
William  J. Demarco Profile Photo
1951 William 2023

William J. Demarco

May 30, 1951 — May 21, 2023

William J. DeMarco, 71, Rockford, IL peacefully departed for his heavenly home on May 21, 2023, surrounded by his loving family. Born May 30, 1951 in St. Paul, MN, son of Albert G. and Deloris Belle Wagner “Niksch” DeMarco. Graduated from Cretin High School class of 1969 and received his bachelor’s degree from Hamline University in 1976, both in St Paul. Received his master’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago. He served in the Minnesota National Guard for 6 years during the Vietnam War.

He married his lifelong partner, business partner and best friend Barbara C. “Sonny” Hempy in South St Paul, MN on April 25, 1975.

Bill was an accomplished CEO, healthcare consultant, entrepreneur, author, speaker, advisor, spiritual mentor, and philanthropist. His career necessitated travels to nearly every state in the union, as well as overseas to Istanbul and Rome. However, he took the greatest pride and joy in his family - especially his three grandchildren. . If you were in his life, he considered you family. He treated everyone he encountered with respect and kindness.

In addition to being an amazing husband, father and grandfather, Bill was a very active and generous member of the Rockford community. A man of devout faith with an active Catholic life, he was a member of the Cathedral of St. Peter for over 40 years. There, he taught CCD and, along with Sonny, taught RCIA for many years. Both he and his wife spent several years as team leaders for Marriage and Engaged Encounter weekends at Bishop Lane Retreat House. He served as eucharistic minister at Church, and frequently distributed eucharist to those who could not attend mass.

He was a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (North Central Liutenancy). For several years he was a member of the OSF St. Anthony Home Health Care Board. He was also a long-time member of the Laymen’s Retreat League- Jesuit RetreatHouse in Demontreville, Minnesota where he, along with son Alex would attend a yearly retreat together. Bill was a long-time mentor and board member of the Kantorei Boychoir, for which he chaperoned many tours, and led fundraising campaigns. He had a very meaningful impact on many young people throughout his life. He also was a proud member of the National Association of Real Bearded Santas – a passion he came to late in life as he aged and young children started asking him if he was Santa Claus! Bill was an incredibly genteel and affable individual, and garnered trust and confidence in all who met him and relied upon him, both professionally and personally. He was generous, selfless, and eager to help whenever he could. In his early years, he was a musician and was involved in the local music scene. He loved the wilderness and the north woods where many family vacations were spent. He also loved his many cats over the years.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Sonny; son, Alexander H. (Rose) DeMarco; grandchildren, Dominic, Julianna and Charlotte; sister, Mildred M. (Steve) Mischke; sister-in-law Terry (Chuck) Voyles; nieces, Cindy Mischke, Diana (Derek) Fletcher, Amber (Ben) Bashaw and nephew, Joshua (Janel) Voyles. Predeceased by his parents.

The family would like to thank every nurse that works at Swedish American Hospital for their compassion and kindness during his illness.

A Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, June 17, 2023 at 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter, 1243 N. Church St.

Rockford, IL 61103,  preceded by a visitation from 9:30 a.m. until time of Mass at the church. Burial will take place at a later date in Minnesota. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Demontreville Jesuit Retreat House, 8243 Trail North, Lake Elmo, MN 55042, click link below to donate:

The family was assisted by Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory, Mulford Chapel, 1860 S. Mulford Rd. Send condolences and share memories at

Rest easy in God’s grace, light and love.

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, June 17, 2023

9:30 - 10:15 am (Eastern time)

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Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, June 17, 2023

10:30 - 11:30 am (Eastern time)

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