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Varenhorst, Vern (1922-2017)


Posted By: Paul Nagy (email)
Date: 11/26/2017 at 15:00:06

Vern Varenhorst
October 26, 1922 - November 3, 2017

Long time Storm Lake businessman, LaVerne C. Varenhorst, age 95, died on Friday, November 3, 2017, at his home while surrounded by his family.

The youngest child of Frank and Lydia Varenhorst of LeMars, Iowa, Vern was born on October 26, 1922. He attended school in LeMars, graduating as valedictorian of LeMars High School in 1941.

In December 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to the 14th Armored Tanks Division at Fort Smith, Arkansas. While there, he learned of the pilot testing program. After passing the entrance test, he began flight training to become a B-17 co-pilot. From November 1944, through March 1945, 1st Lieutenant Varenhorst successfully completed 25 bombing missions as part of the 447th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Corps.

While in England, he met Margaret Mary “Jane” Butler. They married on June 16, 1945, in her hometown of Keighley, Yorkshire, England. After the war, they made their home in LeMars where Vern worked at the B&B Store. In 1959, however, they moved their family of five children to Storm Lake when he went into business for himself. Vern’s Variety opened in August of that year in space formerly occupied by Wallen’s Variety Store. Ten years later, the business expanded and opened as Vern’s in a new, larger location at 702 Lake Avenue. Within a few years, it expanded again with the opening of a second store, J. Varenhorst Fabrics. In 1983, J. Varenhorst Fabrics became the dominant focus of Vern and Jane’s business partnership. He continued to operate J. Varenhorst Fabrics after Jane’s death in 1995 until its closure in December of 2015. After a 78-year-career in retail that started when he worked as a high school stock boy at the B&B Store, he decided to retire.

Devoted to his family, Vern loved planning an annual family vacation. As a result, his children have fond memories of trips that took them across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Often their travels included an extended family component with visits to far-flung aunts and uncles or cousins along the way. As his children married and started their own families, he and Jane had new reasons to travel. They never missed grandparents’ days, First Communions, baptisms, musical performances, sporting events, graduations, or weddings. Indeed, he became an honored guest at many of his great-grandchildren’s special events. Moreover, he, recently, celebrated his 95th birthday with two parties: one in July with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and another on October 28 with his children and their spouses.

He is survived by his daughters, Margaret (Stan) Krol, of Sellersburg, Indiana, and Rachel (David) Schmid, of Cincinnati, Ohio; his sons, Michael (Irene), of Wichita, Kansas, Stephen (Teresa), of Wayne, Pennsylvania, and Mark (Teresa), of Port Orchard, Washington; nineteen grandchildren; twenty great-grandchildren; and his dearest friend, Margaret Ireland.

He is also survived by members of his late wife’s family: a sister-in-law, Sheila Thompson, and a brother-in-law, Joseph Neff, both of St. Joseph, Missouri, and Colin (Valerie) Butler and Farrell (Molly) Butler, in England along with many nieces and nephews.

Vern was preceded in death by his wife, Jane; his daughter-in-law, Deborah Pitstick Varenhorst; his parents, Frank and Lydia; and his siblings, Benedict (Marjorie), Frank, and Alma. He was also predeceased by Jane’s sisters and brothers-in-law, Winifred and John Addyman, Patricia and John Hodgson, and Eileen Neff.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, November 8, 2017, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Fratzke & Jensen Funeral Home, 1615 W. Milwaukee Ave., Storm Lake. Donations in his honor to either Unity Point at Home Hospice, 112 West 5th Street, Storm Lake, Iowa 50588, or to the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight, 320 South 12th Street, Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501, would be appreciated.

Fratzke & Jensen Funeral Homes, Storm Lake, Iowa, 2017.


Buena Vista Obituaries maintained by Paul Nagy.
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