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“Although I never met Mr. Volberding I treasure the hours spent remembering our fathers with Dave. Our fathers shared a birthday, similar military...Read More »
1 of 2 | Posted by: Mary Jo Tuohy - Villa Park, IL

“Alan and I want to share our condolences to the entire Volberding family.My memories of Gary are first when we use to get together On New Year's Day...Read More »
2 of 2 | Posted by: Jill Amati - Des Plaines, IL


"My father lived until he was 64, so as far as I'm concerned anything past that is gravy." When he died on June 16, 2020, in McKinney, Texas at age 85, Gary Volberding had, by his count, savored twenty-one extra years of life.

Gary was born in Chicago on November 10, 1934, and grew up on the west side in what was known as the Austin neighborhood. One of his best tricks, perfected over the years as a salesman, was to locate most places in the city based on the address within the "grid" of city blocks. His Chicago roots were also evident in his sports allegiances cheering for the Cubs and the Bears.

He attended Trinity Lutheran Church with his parents Grace and Elmer, big sister Jean and little brother Paul. The story goes that Gary was the first acolyte. Gary, Jean and Paul formed life-long friendships that outgrew the years of High School Luther League to become the No Name Club. The NNC socialized monthly and grew to include spouses as members got married. They continue to meet almost 70 years later.

As a Boy Scout that achieved the ultimate rank of Eagle, he was always prepared with a pocket knife and a garage full of supplies from which he could "engineer" a fix for most broken things. If all else failed, duct tape and superglue often did the trick.

He graduated from Austin HS and spent a year at Northwestern University before he transferred to Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. While earning his degree in English, Gary managed the college radio station, was involved in multiple aspects of the theater department and met his future wife of 63 years, Joan. They were married June 1, 1957 in Waterloo the same week he graduated, considerately saving Chicago relatives an extra trip to Iowa.

His first job out of college was in radio as a newsman for KCHA, Charles City, Iowa until he was drafted into the army where he earned the rank of 2nd Lt and returned to Chicago as editor of the 5th Army Headquarters newspaper. Honorably discharged back into civilian life, Gary began a new career in sales with Simpson Electric. By the time of his retirement he had worked for Graybar Electric for over thirty years. In that time Gary and Joan, son David and daughter Tricia, lived in six different states as he climbed the corporate ladder. His success in sales earned him several trips that allowed him and Joan to travel to places like Venezuela, London, Rome, Bermuda and the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics.

Gary was a man of faith who always actively participated in the life of a congregation wherever he resided. He volunteered in lots of ways but he never sang in the choir. Trust us, there is a good reason for this. His kindness and generosity wasn't limited to the church. Friends and family alike have many stories of how Gary went the extra mile.

The former newsman kept his flair for storytelling and was famous with his kids and grandkids for creatively spinning entertaining and funny tall tales. Never really competitive in sports, he did still enjoy pitching the occasional softball game earning him the nickname of "Wild Thing" among his Thursday Night guys. His real competitive spirit came out in family pinochle games where it was rumored he once threw cards across the table and muttered the occasional colorful phrase.

Over the years, Gary collected many things including old toasters and irons as a nod to his days selling housewares for Graybar. But his best known collection was an entire family room wall of Coca-Cola items. He enjoyed fishing, John Wayne movies, cigars, drinking Coke, puttering in his basement and garage, reading the newspaper, doing crossword puzzles, family history, a Chicago Dog or a Maxwell Street Polish Sausage with everything and lemon meringue pie. Gary had a definite sweet tooth enjoying his morning sweet roll or coffee cake, and he never met a cookie or dish of ice cream that he didn't like.

Gary would never have claimed to be a saint. He had a short temper but never held a grudge. He trusted in the forgiveness and grace of God in Jesus Christ. He was charming and always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face for wait staff in restaurants, clerks at the gas station where he bought his lottery tickets, the checkout line where he loved to help bag his own groceries and most recently for the nurses and other staff who cared for him. We can't neglect to mention that a song sung off key was also often on his lips. He had a loyal thirty year friendship with Bill W.

After living in Palatine, Illinois for thirty-seven years, Gary and Joan downsized and came full circle back to where the met in the state of Iowa, residing near their daughter Tricia in Vinton since 2016. A recent decline in his health took him to group home in McKinney, near his son David. Gary died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes.

Loved ones who cleared the path for him in death were parents, Elmer and Grace, sister, Jean and sister-in-law, Margaret. Loved ones who miss Gary and celebrate his memory are wife, Joan, son David, daughter-in-law Cheryl, daughter Tricia, son-in-law Vince, brother Paul, granddaughter Aimee and her husband Corey, granddaughter Krista and her husband Matt, grandson Jon and great-grandchildren Fox, Lincoln and Maggie as well as nieces and nephews. Other special "family" include Jodi, Kyle and Wyatt Steiner and Tricia's stepsons Torrent and Canyon Decker.

Due to COVID-19 plans for a service will be postponed. In lieu of flowers donations can be made in honor of Gary to All Saints Lutheran Church in Palatine, IL or Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Vinton, Ia.