September 3, 1935- October 3, 2023
VISITATION: Monday, October 9, 2023, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the West Center Chapel, followed by a VIGIL SERVICE at 7:00 p.m. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 11:oo a.m. at St. James Catholic Church, 4710 N 90 St. Private Family Interment. Memorials are suggested to St. James Catholic Church and Benedictine College. To view a live broadcast of the Service, please go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.
Virgil was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Caroline; brothers, Albert and Donald; brothers and sisters-in-law, Leo and Eleanor, Bernard and Martha, Norman and Mary, George and Fay; sister and brother-in-law, Evelyn and George Sevcik, sister-in-law, Marion Goracke (Pientka); brother-in-law, Paul Burgess; nephews: Ronald, James, Fredrick, Robert, Mahz, and Daniel Sevcik; and niece, Barbara.
Virgil is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Linda Lou Goracke (Rohrbach); daughters and sons-in-law, Anne Marie and Bruce Carpenter, Michelle and Aaron Haley; sons and daughters-in-law: Bruce and Karen (Couvillon), Kevin and Cathy (Wilson), Brad and Dina (Mack); grandchildren: Henry, Charles, Eric, Hannah, Jared, Travis, Dylan, Hollyn, Clara, Tess, and Anthony Haley; brother, Clarence; sisters-in-law, Lavina Goracke (Schiferl) and Maryann Burgess (Rohrbach), as well as numerous nieces and nephews and other family and friends.
Virgil Jerome Goracke was born to Caroline and Frank Goracke in St. Paul, Nebraska. He was the youngest of nine children, having seven brothers and one sister. The family lived a rather simple life on a farm. Virgil attended a one-room schoolhouse and helped work the farm. After graduating high school he moved to Atchison, KS, and attended St. Benedict’s College (now Benedictine College). It was there, at St. Benedict’s, that he met Linda Rohrbach. Linda was from Overland Park, Kansas, and was visiting St. Benedict’s, with her sister Maryann, to attend a social event. Her sister’s boyfriend, Paul Burgess, who later became Linda’s brother-in-law, introduced Linda to Virgil. Linda and Virgil danced together that evening and Virgil later told her that he prayed to the Blessed Mother that night, asking Mary to let him see her again. Linda was in high school when they met; the two dated for three years and were married on September 10, 1960. Virgil and Linda settled in Omaha where Virgil began his career under the wing of his brother, Albert. After working with Albert for two years, Virgil launched a successful accounting firm of his own, which he expanded over the years to include several partners.
Virgil and Linda had five children together. The family traveled often, from California to Florida, and everywhere in between. Oftentimes, Linda’s mother, Martha, joined them on their family vacations. The Lake of the Ozarks became a regular summer destination, as did Canada for the annual fishing trip at Lake Harrop, Manitoba. Virgil was an outdoorsman; he loved nature. Many of these trips were with family friends, of which he had many. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping, riding snowmobiles at the family farm, but one of his biggest passions was his garden. He gardened all of his life, even this year at age 88, growing all kinds of flowers and vegetables. He took great pride in his garden. He would say, “Anything worthwhile takes work”. He grew zinnias, impatiens, and a variety of wildflowers. He spent countless hours in the backyard, working in the garden and just relaxing … watching the birds and butterflies. He grew lettuce, carrots, kohlrabi, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, and much more. While the family enjoyed the flowers and fresh vegetables of course, Virgil also loved to share them with friends and neighbors.
Virgil was incredibly social and quite a character. He certainly left an impression wherever he went. He loved to joke around, have fun and be surrounded by friends and family. He enjoyed horse racing and was a huge fan of Nebraska football, holding season tickets for decades. He traveled to the Caribbean and Hawaii with Linda and their friends; Las Vegas was another of his favorite places to visit. He loved playing blackjack, craps and eating good food. One of his specialties was making homemade ice cream! Linda and Virgil hosted countless block parties in their backyard where friends, neighbors, and relatives would come together; great fun was had by all! Through all the physical limitations he encountered later in life, he still absolutely loved to go. He loved life. On quieter nights, he enjoyed playing cards, watching Westerns and listening to music.
Virgil was a loving father and husband, and a hard working provider. His wife and children meant everything to him. Family was the most important, above all else. He did everything to give his wife and family a good life. Their five children attended Catholic schools in Omaha and went on to earn college degrees and grow into successful and genuine people, all thanks to the strong leadership and example set by their father, and the supporting, loving home created by he and Linda. They were married for 63 years, and were blessed with eleven grandchildren. Linda recently described Virgil as a little boy with a big heart. He was the center of his family, and he will be sorely missed by all.
Dad was a country boy at heart. He loved being outside, hunting, fishing, working in the garden, working on the farm and anything related to being outside. He did this his entire life, even this year he planted a garden, at age 88.
Dad loved to travel and loved to take his wife and children with him. As children we traveled coast to coast, and made many, many trips to the Ozarks, Okoboji, Colorado, and many other places. We even took trips together to Europe. Our Grama Martha came along on the family trips much of the time. Picture the movie Vacation, with kids packed in the wood-paneled station wagon and the luggage strapped on top of the car. It was pretty much like that! One place Dad especially loved was Lake Harrop in Canada. For years, he and a group of family & friends would go in June, traveling first by car to Winnipeg and then by seaplane to the lake to catch walleye and northern pike. Mom and Dad also traveled to Hawaii, the Caribbean and Las Vegas with friends. Dad loved to move about!
Dad loved Nebraska football. He has been a season ticket Holder or going to games ever since prior to when we were born. He always loved to take his children to the games as well, we even went to the national championship games in Miami, and many other places for road games. In that regard, and for Virgil, GOOOOOOOO BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!! GO BIG RED!
Dad was very social and always loved spending time with his friends. They traveled together numerous times all over the country. They went out to dinner together, played poker together, went to the horse races together and did all of the fun things that friends do. He loved to spend time with his friends and family on the Missouri River, and camping and the like. He treasured his friendships and talked about his buddies all the time.
Dad was known for his sayings, which we call Virgilisms. When waiting extensively for traffic he would say “Who opened the gate”, an apparent reference to a long stream of cattle. When someone would speed past us in a car or motorcycle, he would say “You’ll read about him in the paper”. There were other practical ones that some of us kids have adopted ourselves, like “We’re off like a herd of turtles”, used when finally departing for a destination after long organizational delays. Perhaps the most puzzling one though was “Do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?” What that means or where that came from had always been an unknown. Mikki recently discovered that it originally came from an old vaudeville country rube routine. Virgil, however, uses it as way to start a conversation, in lieu of the traditional starter of talking about the weather. Try it sometime, and thank Virgil while doing so!
Dad loved to eat and we always had great meals at family get togethers. It was so funny how he used to talk himself into eating more by proclaiming out loud, “Have another piece of chicken Virgil.” and answer “Oh OK!”
All the while, Dad was always a very generous and very courteous man. He made a lot of donations to charities and enjoyed giving little gifts to people, or nice tips to wait staff and the like. A business acquaintance said after hearing of his passing that Virgil always started every conversation with camaraderie before discussing business, which made talking with him very enjoyable. That sounds like Virgil.
In short, he was a man who was very outgoing and had a lot of fun! His self-imposed knickname of “Moses” evidences his sparkling humor.
And of course, Virgil loved his children and spoiled us tremendously. He was also not shy about letting us know how spoiled we were… which, looking back, probably made us kids more humble and grateful for all of our blessings.
Most of all though he loved his wife! That has never more evident than what was shown these last few weeks. His love for her was tremendous. And hers for him. Mom recently described him as little boy with a big heart. That’s a great description. Imagine 63 years married to a little boy with a big heart!
Virgil will, of course, be missed, but he left quite the impression on his wife, his children, his friends and relatives, and even complete strangers. His kind actions and words of wisdom carried out on this earth will influence many people throughout their lifetimes, and will be passed on to the next generations. While he may not be with us any longer, his love lives on!
We love you Dad!