John Vergeront died peacefully at his home in Madison, two weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.
John spent his childhood in Black River Falls and Barron, and he remained deeply attached to small town Wisconsin life even though he lived the rest of his life in Madison and Milwaukee. After graduating from West High School in Madison, John attended the University of Wisconsin, where he developed a life-long passion for the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Badgers. The 1942 Badger Year Book described his excellent grades and his leadership role in student government with this introduction: "Quiet and unassuming, member of Alpha Delta Phi, with the winning smile is John Vergeront, of student activities fame."
Upon graduation from the UW in 1943, John married his college sweetheart, Sallie Walker Jones. Like many young men at the time, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving his country during World War II as a Lieutenant in the South Pacific. Returning home in 1945, he completed his law degree at the UW.
John began his legal career in Milwaukee with the law firm now known as Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek. Later he joined the law firm that became known as Davis, Kuelthau, Vergeront, and Stover, and is now known as Davis and Kuelthau. John had a varied practice in corporate law, labor law, and estate planning, and served as the manager partner for many years. He was held in high regard by the administrative staff at the firm because of his kind manner in working with the firm's employees. In his later years, John found particular pleasure in estate planning because he was able to help people he had known for many years through difficult times. John retired from law practice in 1997, at the age of 75, having achieved his early goal of practicing law for 50 years.
In addition to his law practice, John was also an active member of the Milwaukee community. He and Sallie have been members of Plymouth Church in Milwaukee for more than 65 years, where he served on several boards over the course of many years. John also served on the Fox Point School Board and the Boy Scouts of Milwaukee Board and was a member of the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. He kept in close contact with this friends from Alpha Delta Phi in Milwaukee, meeting weekly for lunch for over 50 years.
Even more important to him than his profession were his wife Sallie and their family. John and Sallie have seven children, and he always made his family a priority despite the demands of his law practice. John served as a Boy Scout leader for his sons' troops and supported all his children in their academic and extracurricular activities. The family took long car camping vacations throughout the United States, visiting Civil War battlegrounds, historic homes, national parks, and relatives around the country. John's love for his family is captured by these words of Teddy Roosevelt, which he was fond of quoting: "For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison."
John's family has continued to get together long after his children were grown and had families of their own. The last big get-together was for John and Sallie's 70th wedding anniversary in October 2013.
John is survived by his wife of 70 years, Sallie; his seven children, David, Margaret (Peggy) (Michael Weiden), Kim (Andy Cohn), Jeanne (Andrew Dick), Tom, Julie, and Andy (Tammy); 15 grandchildren; and 12 great grandchildren. The family would like to thank Agrace Hospice, especially Joanne and Rebecca, for their excellent care of John and support to his family over the last several months.
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at 11:30 a.m. at Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway, Madison, Wisconsin.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Elizabeth Vandenberg Vergeront Scholarship 4-H Leadership Award, UW Foundation, US Bank Lockbox, Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807.