Peter DeGonia was born on May 26th,1945, at Cook County Hospital. At that time it was not uncommon for infants to be adopted out of the hospital. It turned out Peter was cared for by the good nurses at Cook County for almost two years. Eventually, young Peter was taken to the Dixon State School, where he resided for the next 16 years. For most of that period, he lived in a cottage with other boys who had few or no intellectual disabilities. Peter formed many lifelong friendships with his cottage mates.
Upon completing his education at the Dixon State School, Peter entered the workforce. One of Peter’s most memorable jobs was working at Klines Department Store in Dixon. He loved working for the late Fritz Herzog. Throughout his entire life Peter remembered fondly the way Mr. Herzog would insure thata task was completed. Instead of ordering, “Move these boxes ….” Mr. Herzog would always say, “Do me a favor and please move these boxes for me.” The job would always be done.
While working at Klines, Peter struck up anenduring friendship with Dorothy and LesterHill and their entire family. Peter would be present at the Hill’s Thanksgiving and holiday table for the next 56 years. In his early twenties, Peter and his former cottage mate, Charles Zimmerman, moved to Rockford and began a long career working in Rockford’s then booming manufacturing industry. Peter worked until the age of 66. In retirement, Peter enjoyed long bike rides along the river and walks through his beloved city of Rockford.
Over the years, Peter became a much loved member of a tight knit community on the east side of downtown Rockford. This community, centered around Roy Stone and Sheila Hebblethwaite, pitched in to lovingly care for “Pete” in his dying days, allowing him to die with peace in his own home, where he had lived for more than fifty years. Peter left us on July 25, 2021 at the age of 76.
There will be a celebration of Peter’s life on Saturday, August 21, at2:00 at his home, 1029 Spafford Avenue, Rockford.
Arrangements by Sundberg Funeral Home in Rockford.
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