Jerry Rochford, 75
Jerry Rochford age 75 of New Hampton, IA, died Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, MN.
A private family Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 28, 2020 at Holy Family Parish, New Hampton with Rev. Brian Dellaert celebrating the Mass. PLEASE JOIN THE FAMILY SATURDAY AT 10:30 A.M. VIA FACEBOOK LIVE ON THE HUGEBACK JOHNSON FUNERAL HOMES FACEBOOK PAGE. Online condolences for Jerry's family may be left at hugebackfuneralhome.com
Private family interment will take place at Calvary Cemetery, New Hampton at a later date with a Celebration of Life Service to follow.
Funeral arrangements are with Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home & Crematory in New Hampton. 641-394-4334
Jerry James Rochford Sr. was born August 9, 1944, in New Hampton, IA, the son of C. Merle and G. Berniece (Finnegan) Rochford.
He grew up on a farm just west of New Hampton, where he helped out wherever his Dad told him to go — including painting the outside of the family’s barn, which was only accessible by climbing to the peak of the barn. Years later, he would tell his boys, who asked why he would do that? “Because he told me I had to.”
He attended school in New Hampton and was a standout three-sport athlete — playing football, competing in basketball and running in track, a sport in which he is still part of the school’s record-setting 4x880-yard relay — before graduating in 1962.
There are a lot of great Jerry Rochford childhood and teenager stories. Some we can tell; some others are probably best kept in our family.
After high school, Jerry attended the University of Northern Iowa, where he played football one year — because he was a freshman, he had a leather helmet, which he claimed he could “fold up” when practice was over — and ran track all four years as he earned a degree in math education.
He took his first teaching job in Ledyard, a town in northern Kossuth County and then headed to Edgewood-Colesburg, which turned out to be a wise choice because it was there that he met Jean Fobes.
In 1968, he returned home to teach math at New Hampton, and his students will tell you that in his classroom, you went to work and didn’t mess with Mr. Rochford. He also served as an assistant football, basketball and track coach for more than a decade, and honestly, he was a coach for most of his life.
On July 5, 1969, he married the love of his life, Jean, in Strawberry Point, and the family eventually grew to five with the addition of their sons — J.J., James and Joel.
In the late 1970s, Jerry left teaching and returned to the farm, where he worked side-by-side with is father, and he also sold federal crop insurance, which eventually led him to starting Rochford Insurance in 1988 so that he and Jean could help their boys with college expenses.
He was a great father, and his sons inherited their father’s competitiveness. The Rochford farm had the first asphalt long jump lane so that his sons could get “their steps down.” And it wasn’t easy to miss the Rochford farm, because it also had a football goal post in the yard.
When the boys were younger, Jerry and Jean often took them camping, which led the couple to purchase a house on “the river” in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Jerry loved the river, loved boating, loved watching his grandchildren have a great time, but he despised fishing although he could fillet a fish or two or 70 if needed.
He was a longtime member of the New Hampton Golf and Country Club, and on every shot, he addressed the ball. Seriously. “Hello ball” he’d say before sending it down the fairway.
Jerry was a longtime supporter of Ed-Co, Chickasaw and Wartburg athletics, and like we said, he never gave up coaching. There was the state qualifying meet where he offered tips to one of his grandson’s friends, and by the end of the meet, he was offering tips to kids not only from Ed-Co but MFL-Mar-Mac, Turkey Valley and others. Even a few weeks, as his granddaughter competed at the Dickinson Relays and Jerry was in Rochester getting ready for open-heart surgery, grandfather coached his granddaughter over the phone.
He was also a proud member of the Gilbert Towing Coffee Club. He may not have liked coffee, but he rarely missed hanging out with his friends each morning. He was also a member of Holy Family Parish in New Hampton.
Jerry was a farmer at heart, and although he had great success with his insurance agency and continued to stop into work every morning, it was in a tractor or in a barn or in a bin shoveling corn where he was most at home.
But mostly, Jerry was a family man. He had high expectations of his children and grandchildren, but he also was always in their corner. Those grandchildren will miss seeing and, yes, sometimes hearing “Grandpa Jerry” in the crowd.
His passing is difficult for all the Rochfords — Jean, the boys, the grandkids — but they are comforted with the stories they can tell about their husband, father and grandfather. He was one a of a kind, and he will be missed. But he also left his mark on his family and his community.
Survivors include his wife, Jean; three sons, Jerry James “J.J.” Rochford of Guttenburg, IA, James (Heather) Rochford of Edgewood, IA, Joel (Andrea) Rochford of New Hampton; nine grandchildren, Payton Rochford, Preston Rochford, Parker Rochford, Pryce Rochford, Conner Rochford, Carlee Rochford, Caden Rochford, Ben Ernst and Lexi Ernst; three brothers, Charles (Connie) Rochford of Rochester, MN, Michael (Sandy) Rochford, Rock (Peg) Rochford all of Cedar Rapids; three sisters, Sharon Trewin of New Hampton, Patricia Knowlton of Ionia, IA, Roxann (Karl) Podratz of Rochester, MN; brother-in-law, Steven (Penny) Fobes of Hilton Head, SC.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his in-laws, Glen and Irma Fobes.