June 2, 1926 – Dec. 28, 2017
Vernal Lewis Goodrich was born June 2, 1926, in Lovell, to Porter Merrill Goodrich and Eldona Thaxton Goodrich. He grew up in Lovell and started working in the fields during the depression when he was about 8 years old.
By the time he was 15, he was working on a sheep shearing crew with his dad. 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, he joined the U.S. Navy. He was sent to Farragut, Idaho, for training and was assigned as an electrician’s mate. He served in the Pacific Theater of World War II on the troop transport ship U.S.S. Wharton.
He spent almost exactly two years in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was honorably discharged just as soon as he could manage it after the war ended. During a 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.
He attended college on the G.I. Bill, graduating with a Bachelor of Education in 1951 and his master’s 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.
The family moved to a farm in Talent, Ore., in August of 1955, which was home base for all of the kids, grandkids and great-grandkids for 62 years. The family had so many good times as well as some bad ones at that home. The worst was when Mother, Joyce, was diagnosed with cancer in March of 1981. After a valiant eight-month battle, she died on Nov. 21 of that same year.
Nearly five years later on July 20, 1986, he married a wonderful woman – Shirley How. They taught school together at Lone Pine School and they 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 on March 5, 1991.
Shirley had a dear friend, Gracia Brown, who was also a longtime friend of the family. Vernal and Gracia became close as they both were trying to recover from Shirley’s death. Vernal and Gracia married on Jan. 6, 1992. Vernal died just nine days before their 26th wedding anniversary.
Vernal died on Dec. 28, 2017, at Rogue Valley Medical Center at the age of 91. He is survived by his wife, Gracia, all of his children, his 13 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, his brothers Bruce of Salt Lake City and Gary (Joyce Kay) of Farmington, Utah, and his sisters Donna Lee Cook of Laramie, Joan Cannon of Bountiful, Utah, Gay Child of Caldwell, Idaho, and many loving nieces and nephews. His brother Grant, who died on Dec. 6, 2017, preceded him in death.
“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 and just got on with things,” a family member wrote. “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 in Medford. There was a private graveside service on Jan. 4 at Memory Gardens.
To send one of our special floral arrangements, please call Valley Flowers & Gifts in Lovell, 307-548-7101