Geno DeRochi, 96, a well-respected and longtime resident of Taylorville, passed away at 4:07 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in the house that he and wife, Eleanor, built in 1952.
He was born to Italian immigrants, Angelo and Anna Faoro DeRochi, on March 19, 1917, in Ladd, Ill.
Geno inherited a relentless work ethic and became a tireless worker, as well as a tremendous athlete. While attending Taylorville Township High School, Geno was a standout in basketball and football. His nickname was "Musso" and "Atlas", named for his prowess, speed and strength. He was a crunching running back. Geno attended Milliken University to play football. With the sudden passing of his father, he returned home to help his mother during the struggling times of that era. Later Geno ventured to Chicago attending trade school to learn tool and die making. He became a member of the Chicago YMCA and became the high diving champion and received medals.
With the outbreak of the war, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 serving in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater in Central Burma. Geno received the Bronze Star and Good Conduct Medal, along with other decorations.
After receiving his honorable discharge in 1946, Geno returned home and married Eleanor Wilcox on June 5, 1948, and started their family. Geno was employed with CIPS for 35 years and retired in 1981. In addition to his full-time job, it was common for him to work 2-3 part-time jobs. With their hard work, Geno and Elly were able to send all their children to college where they all earned degrees.
Geno was well-known for his growing and raising tomatoes and other produce. His "hotbeds" used pony manure from Gene Kennedy Pony Farm to promote the growth of his plants. Additionally, with the help of his mother and family, a large truck patch spanned to the railroad tracks. At one time 1200 tomato plants were planted, staked and tied up in the garden. Tomatoes were sold to restaurants, grocery stores and St. Vincent Hospital. Residents bought tomatoes by the bushel for canning.
As busy as Geno was, he always had time for all his children's activities. Geno was a loyal and true friend to many. He had a sense of humor all his own and it was still evident up to his last hours.
Geno made his daily "rounds" about town visiting employees at Taylorville Food Center, pooling lottery tickets with friends at Gordon Olds (never did hit big!), stopping at McKinnie Country Financial, then going to visit friends and eating popcorn, betting Pat on Illinois games at Urban Rental. We know who came out ahead on that deal! He loved running errands for family, picking up grandkids at school and helping with landscape jobs about town.
Geno was an avid golfer and played until he was 92. His only known "want" in life was to reach the age of 90 so that he could receive the free golf pass at Lakeshore Golf Course! This he did achieve.
Geno was a devoted son to his mother and even more devoted to Eleanor, his wife of 65 years. He was a handsome, prince of a man with a gentle soul. Dad was a tremendous father and a proud grandparent and great-grandparent. There was never a time when his children couldn't say "That's my Dad." He truly will be missed by all.
Surviving are his wife, Eleanor DeRochi of Taylorville; children: Debbie Amling (husband, Rob) of Tower Hill, Philip DeRochi (wife, Kriss) of Taylorville, Gina Thoele of Cantrall, and Barb Snodgrass (husband, Fred) of Virden; grandchildren: Rochelle DeRochi, Elisha Schnieders (husband, Brandon), Stacie Sherman (husband, Glenn III), Emily Thoele, Will Goebel (wife, Laura), Jereme Goebel, Steven Snodgrass, Brian Snodgrass, and Laura Thomas; great-grandchildren: Jamieson Schnieders and Gavin Schnieders, Guiseppe Goebel and Carmela Goebel.
He was preceded in death by his parents; granddaughter, Natalie Goebel; twin daughters in infancy; brother, Brune DeRochi; and a sister, Jacqueline Watts.
Published in The State Journal-Register on September 8, 2013