Mark A. Vandemore, 84, of Geneseo, IL, passed away on Sunday, June 19, 2022, Father’s Day, where he was surely reunited in heaven on this special day with a loving embrace of his daughter, Brenda. Visitation will be held in honor of Mark on Friday June 24th at Vandemore Funeral Home in Geneseo, IL, from 4:00pm – 7:00pm. On Saturday, June 25th at 10:30am, funeral services will be held at St. Malachy’s Catholic Church in Geneseo, IL, as celebrated by the Father Daniel Gifford. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Geneseo, IL. All guests are invited to then return to St. Malachy’s and join the family in a luncheon celebration of Mark’s life. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly asks that memorials be made to the Mark A. Vandemore Memorial Fund, where all proceeds will be distributed to the various local charities Mark loved most.
Mark was born and raised in Geneseo, IL, on November 3, 1937, the son of Olly and Margaret Vandemore. Mark spent virtually his entire life residing in Geneseo, graduating from high school in 1955, upon which he immediately enlisted in the United States Navy. After his first year of serving in the Navy and being trained in Chicago and Washington, D.C., Mark returned to Geneseo to marry his high school sweetheart, Sue Ann DeBlieck, daughter of Elmer and Lila DeBlieck, on July 3, 1956. Two days after their wedding, Mark and Sue Ann then traveled back to the east coast and lived in Boston for a brief time, before eventually being transferred to the Pacific Island of Guam, with their newborn daughter, Brenda, who was born on April 30, 1957. While serving on Guam, Mark eventually rose to the rank of Petty Officer Third Class, performing many roles and duties, most notably that of learning the Russian language and becoming a linguist and Russian interpreter for the United States Navy. While few knew, Mark, to this day, still was able to speak the Russian language. After two years on Guam, Mark, Sue Ann, and Brenda relocated to San Diego, CA where Mark was honorably discharged from active military service in 1959, and the family returned to Geneseo, IL.
Once back in Geneseo, Brenda was eventually joined by her two younger brothers, Steve who was born on September 20, 1961, and Marti who was born on July 28, 1965. During this time in the early ‘60’s, Mark worked several jobs at the local Post Office, Republic Newspaper, and Oakwood Cemetery to help make ends meet. But it was in the late ‘60’s when Mark joined his father-in-law, Elmer, in business when his career began to take hold. Elmer had founded Osco Feed and Fertilizer years earlier, and asked Mark to help him manage the family business. After a successful run, Elmer eventually sold the Feed division, allowing Mark and Elmer to then focus all their energies on the rapidly growing fertilizer business, Osco Fertilizer. After the untimely death of Elmer in 1975, Mark then took his passion for serving farmers and grew Osco Fertilizer into one of the largest custom application fertilizer businesses in the area. In 1981, Mark and Sue Ann then collectively decided it was time to slow down, so they sold their fertilizer business and were then able to spend more time doing the things they genuinely love, which simply was being together as husband and wife.
At this point, Mark’s early retirement allowed his pursuit of other enjoyable challenges, including that of being a Geneseo, Orion, and Atkinson Township Assessor for the next 25 years. Concurrently, in 1985, Mark’s entrepreneurial spirit also led him to found Vandemore Monument in Geneseo, IL, where he built another successful business serving the local community. Ultimately deciding to retire once again, it was in the year 2000 after the passing of Sue Ann’s mother, Lila, when Mark and Sue Ann gifted the monument business to their daughter Brenda, whose infectious smile and compassion for others would become the hallmark of Geneseo Memorials until her death in 2018.
Mark absolutely loved life, had an incredible sense of humor, and his will to live was unmatched; he always looked for ways to give back wherever he could. During Mark’s career he was elected Alderman for the 3rd Ward in Geneseo; became a Eucharistic Minister at St. Malachy’s Catholic Church; earned a lifetime membership in the Loyal Order of Moose; and was a member of Geneseo Country club for over 50 years where he also served as President.
Pursuing a new hobby or activity at every turn, Mark loved to do so many things, and was so innovative and creative, that none of his family members could keep track of his latest interest. From golfing, fishing, skeet shooting, wood carving, cabinetmaking, furniture upholstery, stained glass, fish fly tying, painting, trapping, RC planes, leather work, gardening, antique cars, scooters, there simply was nothing Mark could not do.
All that said, Mark’s greatest joy came from spending time with his family and friends. He loved his family so much and always put his family’s interests ahead of his own. While it would seem there never was enough time in the day for “Grandpa Mark” to get everything done, he always found time to say his daily rosary and prayer. No matter the occasion, Mark would also take the time to handwrite a personal thank you, at every turn, to those he touched, or who touched him. His penmanship seemed that of a professional calligrapher and words chosen were always just right. In the end, no one was ever more grateful to God for his countless wonderful blessings, that even to his last hours, he was still thanking his wife, children and grandchildren for all they had given him, when clearly it is his family who thanks Grandpa Mark for all he gave them; just an incredible, loving, human being. There was only one Grandpa Mark, and he is already so dearly missed.
Mark was preceded in death by his parents, his in-laws, and his daughter Brenda.
Mark leaves behind his loving and sweet wife of 65 years, Sue Ann; sons Steve (Rori) and Marti; grandchildren Nick (Elisha) VanMeenen, Danielle VanMeenen, Amanda (Brian) Murtha, Evan Vandemore, Erron (Lydia) Vandemore, Mark Vandemore, Allison Vandemore; and five great-granddaughters.
We would like to thank the incredible doctors who treated Mark through the years, as well as the staff and nurses at Hammond Henry Hospital in Geneseo, Genesis East in Davenport, IA, and Select Specialty Hospital in Davenport, IA for their loving and compassionate care.
In the end, Mark loved God and his family; everything else was secondary. May you rest in peace Grandpa Mark; your family loves you so much and we will all see you soon in heaven. God Bless.