On June 24, 2023, Vernon Wickstrom, at 90 years old, was called home to be with his Heavenly Father. He was born in Turlock on February 17, 1933, the oldest child of Elvera (Carlson) and Oliver Wickstrom. He lived his entire life in Hilmar and graduated from Hilmar High School in 1950. Vern then attended UC Davis where he continued to go home on the weekends to help on his dad’s dairy farm. He graduated in 1952 with a dairy science degree. While attending Davis, he completed the Army Training Course and received a rank of PFC — a benefit when he went to training at Fort Ord. When he was home, he faithfully attended church where a beautiful brunette singing in the choir caught his eye. After UC Davis and before getting married, Vern served in the Korean War where he was stationed on the DMZ/34th Parallel with the 25th Infantry Division. Vern and Mary Ann (Olds) married in 1956 and raised two children.
Vern loved his church, his family, his country and his jersey cows. He took over his father’s dairy operation and eventually passed it on to his son and grandson. He proudly served his country and recently came to mourn the many freedoms that seemed to be slipping away. He was a committed Christian who loved his Lord. His faith showed in the way he treated others. Vern was a lifelong member of the Hilmar Covenant Church. He served as Church Chairman and on the Deacon Board. He also taught Sunday School and supported high school youth activities. He enjoyed keeping in touch with friends on Facebook and playing Solitaire on his phone. His very favorite times were when his great-grandchildren would come and visit. They loved their Papa and they brought him so much joy. He was a kid magnet wherever he went. Vern will ever be remembered for his heart warming smile, his ready laugh, his deep blue eyes, his generous bear hugs and how he always smelled of the soft fragrance of his cologne.
Vern and Mary loved to travel the world and cruise the waterways. His favorite country was Ireland where they traveled with his sister and brother-in-law. He was also blessed to travel to Israel with his wife, daughter and grandson. Vern and Mary had a lifetime of unforgettable experiences together.
Over the years, Vern served on a number of different boards. He served on the Emanuel Hospital Board for several years. During his tenure the board decided to build a new hospital on the corner of Olive and Delbon in Turlock. He also served as President of Merced County Farm Bureau, President of the Hilmar Chamber of Commerce, Director of the Dairy Employers Association of California, District Chairman for Western United Dairymen, served on the California Milk Advisory Board and was elected to the Board of the Turlock Land Bank Association which after several mergers, eventually became Yosemite Farm Credit. He was also recognized as a Merced County Old Timers Association Honoree and in 2022, he and Mary were honored to be named by the Hilmar Chamber of Commerce as Hilmar’s Citizens of the Year. Vern is one of the original twelve founders and owners of the Hilmar Cheese Company.
Vern is preceded in death by his parents Oliver & Vera Wickstrom, baby sister Marlys Wickstrom, sister Eunice (Wickstrom) Pace and brother Duane Wickstrom. He is survived by his wife Mary, son Tim (Carol) Wickstrom, daughter Jill Wickstrom Heath, grandchildren Aaron (Lauren) Wickstrom, Kirsten (Ben) Moore, Kelly Wickstrom, Britta (Ben) Sederquist and Liam Wickstrom and 6 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Valerie (Don) Sorensen of Willow Park, TX, brother Dale (Marta) Wickstrom of Hilmar, CA, sister-in-law Pat Wickstrom of Hilmar, CA and brother-in-law Bill Pace of Tucson, AZ. He leaves behind many nieces, nephews and cousins who he loved dearly.
Visitation will be held at Allen Mortuary in Turlock on July 7, from 4:00 – 6:00 pm.
Celebration of Life will be held at Hilmar Covenant Church, Hilmar, CA on July 8, 2023 at 2:00pm. A reception will follow the service in the church Family Life Center.
In memory of Vern, please consider donating to SmileTrain, https://donate.smiletrain.org/givenow OR Hilmar Covenant Church, https://www.hilmarcovenant.org/giving.