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LaVerne (Vern) W. Umland, 89, of Elkhorn, WI, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. He spent his final days surrounded by family and his beloved wife Shirley (Purcell).
Born in Elkhorn, Wisconsin on September 14, 1934, Vern was raised on his family’s farm just north of Delavan with his younger sister Betty (Kelly) by their parents William and Rena (Burmaster) Umland. Vern, as he was known by his friends, attended Island Grade School and graduated from Delavan High School in the class of 1952.
He was very active in 4-H and it was at a 4-H square dance where he met Shirley on August 7, 1953. They were married exactly one year later at St. Patrick’s rectory. Thus began their sixty nine-year marriage and their family soon began to grow; eventually including three children, six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Vern enlisted in the army on October 16, 1954. Shirley and their infant daughter Diane joined him in July of 1955 in Columbus, Georgia where he served at Fort Benning in the Tank division until October 1956.
After returning to Wisconsin the family continued to grow with the birth of David in 1957. During this time Vern briefly worked at Fischer Body, but returned to farming when the family moved to Sharon in 1958. They completed their family with Daniel in 1962. In 1968 Vern changed course, as they completed building their family home in Elkhorn, and began a 32-year career with Mann Brothers. Vern was a proud member of the Operating Engineers Local 139.
The day after he retired, he and Shirley went to Ireland and thus began a new chapter of their life. The following years were spent visiting family in Colorado, Florida and Texas and friends across the country.
No single word better described Vern than devoted, not only to tirelessly providing for his family but also in serving the community and those in need. He was a dedicated volunteer with the Spirit of Hope Men’s Homeless Shelter, ran the cream puff stand at the Walworth County Fair, and spent two-weeks in New Orleans helping in the recovery after Hurricane Katrina. Vern was a passionate blood donor (bested only by his life-long friend Herbie). As a member of the Knights of Columbus he served as Grand Knight, 4th Degree and was honored as Knight of the year in 2005.
Vern was a farmer at heart and enjoyed nothing more than working with his hands outdoors. He maintained rose bushes and a large personal garden and shared the surplus. He volunteered his time to maintain the St. Patrick’s Church and cemetery grounds.
For more than a decade Vern faced his illness with grace, a favored patient by those who cared for him. Many loved ones and friends provided support. Deep gratitude is offered to his god-daughter Anne (Purcell) Trapp, the caring staff at Holton Manor, DaVita Dialysis, and the love and comfort provided by his little dog Molly.
He will be remembered for all the heart he shared with his friends and family. He truly loved each of them. Vern led by example and was a role model throughout his life. He demonstrated honesty, commitment, hard work and faith. When his time came, he carried himself with strength and dignity. He will be missed dearly.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley (Purcell), three children; Diane (Kent) Zaitz, David Umland, and Daniel (Anette) Umland, six grandchildren: Andrew (Darisha) Umland, Bradford Umland, Ashley Umland, Justin (Kristen) Zaitz, Danielle (Brody) Hanson, and Jared Umland, and eight great-grandchildren: Chase Umland and Aiden Robertson, Caleb Umland, Avery, Luke and Ethan Umland, and Tahlia and Zane Zaitz. He is also survived by brother-in-law David Purcell, sister-in-law Eileen Purcell (Wayne Nelson), and many nieces and nephews. He had a close relationship with many of his extended family.
Memorial Mass will be Saturday, November 25 at 11:00 AM at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 107 W. Walworth St. Elkhorn, WI. Visitation will be at 10:00 AM until service time at the church. Inurnment will follow services at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Elkhorn, WI. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be direct to St. Patrick’s Building Fund or a charity of your choice. Online guestbook at www.haaselockwoodfhs.com.
St. Patrick's Catholic Church
107 W. Walworth St., Elkhorn WI 53121
Charity of your choice