Vernal Lewis Goodrich
June 2, 1926 - December 28, 2017
Vernal Lewis Goodrich, 91, passed away December 28, 2017 at Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Oregon. He was born June 2, 1926 in Lovell, Wyoming to Porter Merrill Goodrich and Eldona Thaxton Goodrich. Dad grew up in Lovell, and started working in the fields during the Great Depression when he was about eight years old. By the time he was 15, he was working on a shearing crew with his father. Being big for his age, he made good money by tying fleeces and stomping wool which enabled him to buy the first love of his life – a 1939 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
In 1944, six months before his 18th birthday, Dad joined the Navy. He was sent to Farragut, Idaho for training and was assigned as an electrician’s mate. He served in the Pacific Theater during WWII on the troop transport ship USS Wharton.
Dad spent almost exactly two years in the Navy during WWII and was honorably discharged just as soon as he could manage after the war ended. During leave in San Francisco, a shipmate introduced him to a pretty young woman from Oregon named Joyce. They fell very much in love and were married on Valentine’s Day in 1946. They had four children over the years: Greg (Shelly) of Springfield, Ore., Robyn (Curt Ashford) of Turner, Ore., Scott (Lee) of Bend, Ore., and Eric of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
Dad attended college on the GI Bill, graduating with a Bachelor in education in 1951 and his Master degree in 1959. He began teaching in the Medford School District in the fall of 1951 and continued teaching in Medford for the next 35 years.
Our family moved to our farm in Talent, Ore., in August of 1955 which ended up being home base for all of us, kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids for 62 years. We had so many good times, as well as some bad at that home. The worst was when our mother, Joyce, was diagnosed with cancer in March of 1981. After a valiant eight-month battle, Mom passed away November 21 of that same year.
Nearly five years later on July 20, 1986, Dad married a wonderful, wonderful woman – Shirley How. They had taught school together at Lone Pine School and had a mutual love of tracing their genealogy. They were married for nearly five years – and they were happy, laughing years – until Shirley, too, succumbed to cancer March 5, 1991. Shirley had a dear friend, Gracia Brown, who was also a long-time friend of our family. Dad and Gracia became close as they both were trying to recover from Shirley’s death. Dad and Gracia married January 6, 1992. Dad passed away just nine days before their 26th wedding anniversary.
Vernal is survived by his wife, Gracia; all of his children; his 13 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren; his brothers, Bruce of Salt Lake City, Utah and Gary (Joyce Kay) of Farmington, Utah; his sisters, Donna Lee Cook of Laramie, Wyo., Joan Cannon of Bountiful, Utah, and Gay Child of Caldwell, Idaho; and many loving nieces and nephews. Dad was preceded in death by his brother Grant, who died December 6, 2017.
Dad was the kindest man in the world, and although he’s been in pain for most of the last half of his life, he never complained. He had a debilitating stroke in 2005, but adjusted the best he could and pushed on. He lived the last six years of his life at Northridge Assisted Living in Medford, where he was a favorite with the staff. His death came as a blessing for him and a huge loss for all of us. Dad was truly loved by all.
Funeral arrangements were with Abbey Funeral Home of Medford. There was a private graveside service January 4, 2018 at Memory Gardens.