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Vernon L. Tobben, 94 , of Washington, passed away on October 12, 2022. Vern, son of the late Bernard Tobben and Agnes nee Unnerstall, was born on March 14, 1928 in Washington. He received his education from St. Francis Borgia High School. On February 18, 1950, he was united in marriage to Lillian Kleekamp at the St. Francis Borgia Church.
Vernon Tobben was the oldest of seven children. He received his education at St. Francis Borgia Grade School, being a member of the first Kindergarten class. He studied two years at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Teutopolis, Illinois and then came back to Washington and graduated from St. Francis Borgia High School in 1946. He was awarded a scholarship to St. Louis University for attaining the highest grades in the English Department. He was active in sports, playing on the first Borgia High School basketball team to win a trophy in a tournament that was played in Wright City.
Vern worked at Mauntel’s Supermarket during high school and till 1954. Then he and Lil moved the family to Staunton, IL where he worked for Armour and Company. They moved to St. Louis in late 1955, where he worked for Metropolitan, selling insurance, and part-time at the Bettendorf-Rapp Grocery Store. From October of 1961 to March of 1963 they lived in Macon where he worked for Krey Packing Company. From there the family moved to Jefferson City where he managed the Southside IGA Store. In 1966 he became an agent for State Farm and moved back to Washington to stay.
In moving from place to place, Vern was always involved in community and civic organizations and especially the Catholic Church. Through the years he has been a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Third Order Franciscans, the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees, and Optimist Club. He was the winner of the “Optimist of the Year” award in 1953 for his work with the Boy Scouts. He served as scoutmaster in Troop 439 at St. Francis Borgia and is a member of the Order of the Arrow, an honorary camping society. Vern served as a 4th Ward Councilman for several years and on the Parish Council at St. Francis Borgia. He was active in various fundraising campaigns at the parish and the building fund campaign for the “new Borgia High School” which opened in 1982. Through the years he has served as a Parish School of Religion teacher, a singer at Masses, a leader in the Search teen retreat program and Christ Renews His Parish program.
In 1989, Vern was one of the original members of Marbach am Neckar-Washington Sister City committee. Over the years he maintained contact with many of the citizens of Marbach with whom he worked to establish the program.
He was an avid sports fan. For many years he and Paul Zoellner announced the Borgia football games from Ronsick Field. He kept play-by-play records for games he attended. He spent hours helping one of his grandsons learn the fine art of field goal kicking. He came to grandchildren’s volleyball, soccer, basketball, football and baseball games. He attended dance recitals, gymnastics meets and traveled as far away as Iowa for cross country and track meets. And then there is Notre Dame…and football, and the Cardinals.
But above all, family was most important to Vern. Time spent together with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was most treasured.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Lillian Tobben; three children, Mary Catherine Tobben, Julia Marie Tobben, and Donald F. Tobben; siblings, Bob Tobben and wife Mary, Leonard Tobben, Bill Tobben, and Margaret Tobben; brothers and sisters-in-law, Paul Zoellner, John Struckhoff, Raymond Kleekamp, Arthur Kleekamp and wife Sadie, Lorene Kreienbaum and husband Herman, Bernard ‘Pete” Kleekamp, Clem Kleekamp and wife Irene, Leo Kleekamp and wife Esther, Wilfred Kleekamp and wife Cecilia, Ralph Kleekamp and wife Arline, and Hubert Kleekamp and wife Laurice.
Among his survivors are four children, Dave Tobben and wife Lucy of Washington, Pete Tobben and wife Judy of Washington, Chris Prater and husband Curt of Jefferson City, and Tish Nester and husband Gerard of St. Louis; daughter-in-law, Sharon Tobben of Washington; two siblings, Arlene Zoellner of Washington and Rita Struckhoff of St. Louis; sister-in-law, Marlene Tobben of Washington; seventeen grandchildren, twenty four great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins; other relatives and many friends.
A visitation will be held on Sunday, October 16, 2022 from 3-7 p.m. at Nieburg-Vitt, Miller Funeral Home. Family rosary will start at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, October 17, 2022 at the St. Francis Borgia Church. Interment will be in the St. Francis Borgia Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the St. Francis Borgia High School-Tuition Assistance, St. Francis Borgia Church, or Our Lady of Lourdes Church.