LAKELAND - Richard Samuel Verkler, 91, passed away peacefully at his home on August 30, 2014, from complications due to heart disease.
Born December 9, 1922, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, to the late Guy and Mabel Verkler, Richard 'Dick' was the youngest of 3 children. His brother Robert Verkler of Ft. Myers, Florida, and sister Ruth Robinson of Linwood, New Jersey, have preceded him in death.
Upon completion of ROTC training at Michigan State University, Dick joined the service and was awarded the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the Army during WWII, serving in Japan and Korea in the 80th Field Artillery Battalion. Upon his honorable discharge, he returned to Michigan State, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 1947. Dick worked for a lumber company near Portland, OR, for a short time before returning to Union Lake, Michigan, where he partnered with his brother, Robert, in a retail venture. Dick continued his career in retail management for many years until his retirement. The Verkler family moved to Florida in 1970 residing in Tampa and Sarasota before moving to Lakeland in 1978.
Dick loved to sing and was an active member in the Lakeland chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society for many years, singing bass and performing with the award winning chorus in competitions across the country. His love of music and fellowship continued at Lake Gibson Church where he sang with the choir and assisted behind the scenes. Dick was an avid golfer and very proud of scoring 2 'hole-in-ones' during his time on the course. His love of people and travel allowed Dick to visit many places around the globe, including Europe, South America and a special trip to the Holy Lands.
Richard is survived by his wife of 53 years, Harlene R. Verkler, his son Rick Verkler of Chicago, IL, step-daughter and husband Lynda and Joe Coyle of Tampa, FL, step-son and wife, Dan and Cathy Widger of Waterford, MI, step-son Dale Widger of Tampa, FL, grandchildren Dan and wife Christine, Jen, Taylor and John, great grandson Mason, nephew Gary Robinson of Memphis, TN, nieces Janet Morgan and Patricia Corradino of Florida.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 13, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at Lake Gibson Church in Lakeland. A private interment will follow at a later date at Sarasota National Cemetery with arrangements made by the Neptune Society of Altamonte Springs.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Cornerstone Hospice, Winter Haven, FL, and Lake Gibson Church, Lakeland, FL, in honor of the incredible dedication and loving care given during this difficult time.
Published in Ledger from Sept. 3 to Sept. 4, 2014