Joseph Verdeyen


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CHAMPAIGN – Joseph T. Verdeyen, 83, formerly of Champaign, died at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday (Feb. 16, 2016) at home, surrounded by his family.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at Morgan Memorial Funeral Home, 1304 Regency Drive, Savoy. A Mass of Christian burial will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 19, at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign. Burial will immediately follow at St. Mary's Cemetery.

Joe was born Aug. 15, 1932, in Terre Haute, Ind., to George Francis and Josephine Kelly Verdeyen. He was the youngest of 10 children. On June 12, 1954, he married the love of his life, Katie, also of Terre Haute. As Joe wrote in the dedication of his third textbook, "Laser Electronics," "From my perspective, our marriage has a storybook characteristic to it with my love for her increasing daily." Katie survives along with his children, Mary (Dennis), Joe (Anita), Jean and Mike (Tammy). Joe loved being a grandpa to his 16 grandchildren, Mark (Monica), Anne (Andy), Katie (Paul), Jean (Chris), John, Nick, Andy, Joe, Sarah (Graham), Rebecca, Danielle, Kelli, Dan, Will, Erin and Kate, as well as his stepgrandchildren, Antonija and Ante. He was also blessed to be a great-grandpa to Anna, Isabel, Nathan, Noah, Caleb, Ethan and Avery and step-great-grandpa to Gwen, Mia and Stella. He was also a proud uncle to many nieces and nephews.

Joe was defined by his faith, which he lived out in numerous ways, specifically as a member of both the Holy Cross and the St. Matthew's school boards and the Peoria Diocesan Board of Education. Additionally, he was an active member in several other Holy Cross and St. Matthew's ministries. But more than these associations, Joe's faith was demonstrated by the way he lived his daily life: a humble, kind and faithful servant.

In addition to family and faith, Joe's next love was his 38-year career as a professor of computer and electrical engineering at the University of Illinois. During those years, he served as director of the Gaseous Electronics Lab as well as the Microelectronics Center, and was the graduate adviser to countless master's and PhD students in electrical engineering. In this role, he touched innumerable lives with his passion for teaching and research, as well as his integrity, respect and commitment to each student. Joe was a pioneer in the field of laser electronics and is named on several patents.

Joe received his bachelor's degree from Rose Hulman Institute, his master's degree from Rutgers University and his PhD from the University of Illinois. Joe had a great love of country and served in the ROTC. This military background meant many Saturday mornings started with patriotic hymns and an occasional "dime test" on his children's beds to be sure they were well-made.

Joe also enjoyed woodworking, jogging, fishing, golf, U of I sports and a well-poured beer (no head) at Murphy's Pub. He lived a life full of love, faith and family and will be dearly missed. His legacy will carry on, though, by how we treat our neighbor and … how we pour our beer.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Matthew's Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Drive, Champaign, IL 61821; St. Camillus Hospice, 10101 W. Wisconsin Ave, Wauwatosa, WI 53226, or, founded by a family member to serve the poor in Honduras.