BLOOMINGTON – Vernon Dean "Vern" Shepherd, 83, of Bloomington passed away at 2:13 p.m. Wednesday (July 1, 2015) at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal.
Per Vern's wishes, cremation rites have been accorded. His graveside service will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 8, at Bailey Memorial Cemetery in Tolono, with the Rev. Dr. Don Jackson officiating. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Kibler-Brady-Ruestman Memorial Home in Bloomington.
Memorials may be directed to the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association or First United Methodist Church in Normal.
Vernon was born Oct. 22, 1931, in Sidney, a son of Verne C. and Edith F. Rush Shepherd. He married Patricia A. Harris on Dec. 19, 1954, in Philo. She survives.
In addition to his wife Patricia, Vernon is survived by a son, David (Cheryl) Shepherd of Barrington; a daughter, Lauri (Kevin) DeVault of Bloomington; two grandsons, Nathan and Tyler DeVault, both of Bloomington; sister, Rosemary Rogers of Lincoln; and a sister-in-law, Marianne Shepherd of Humboldt, Iowa.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Beverly Jean Clotfelter; brother, John Shepherd; and two nieces, Barbara Jo Rogers and Lisa Shepherd Jenkins.
Vern graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in vocational agriculture and he enlisted in the University of Illinois Reserve Officers Training Corps Program, signing in at Fort Knox as an armor officer. After completing Motor Officers School, he was assigned as a tank driving instructor, and later, an instructor for both rifle and pistol ranges.
On discharge in 1957, Vern taught vocational agriculture and classes for returning veterans at Newton Community High School in Newton. It was during this time, he led the National Guard Unit in Newton.
In 1959, Vern joined Funk Seed Company in Bloomington. He worked as a trainee until assigned as a district salesman in Northeastern Indiana in 1961.
Following his second season in Indiana, he was promoted to general manager of Funk Seeds of Canada in Cottam, Ontario, responsible for setting up a sales team, managing inventory and the company's seed production.
Vern was brought back to the Funk Seed Company corporate headquarters in Bloomington in June 1967. Upon his retirement from Funk Seed Company, he was employed as sales manager at Thorp Seed Company, a Golden Harvest Company in Wapella until 1995.
At his retirement from Thorp Seeds, Vern joined the Master Gardeners of the University of Illinois Extension, the majority of his volunteer work being with children involved in the Junior Master Gardeners group and their community gardens.
Vern spent his life in agriculture, from a small farm boy to an agricultural teacher, a seedsman, both in the United States and Canada, and a family farm owner. He loved vegetable gardening with Heirloom tomatoes as his specialty. The bounty of his garden was always for sharing.
He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Normal and a life member of Masonic Lodge in Philo.
Vern was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He will be missed.
Online condolences and memories of Vern may be sent to the family at kiblerbradyruestman.com.