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Erna G. Whalen, 89, of Rockford, passed away on Monday, November 5, 2018. Born on June 4, 1929, in Austin, Minnesota, the daughter of Robert and Clara (Paul) Utzke. Graduate of Adams School in Adams, MN. Class of 1949. Erna married Al R. Whalen on March 20, 1950 in Sioux Falls, SD. He predeceased her on May 17, 2005. She worked for Judd Plumbing, Amerock Corp. and White Swan School. Erna was a member of First Baptist Church.
Erna's love for her family was apparent in every part of her life. As a young stay at home mother she kept a clean house. Laundry, which included ironing, for eight family members was a never-ending task. Sewing was not only a hobby, but a necessity since she made clothes for herself and her children, and she was very good at it. Her children all have memories of home cooked meals every night for supper. Sunday dinner was started before church and was on the table soon after they got home. Nobody realized how she orchestrated each and every day to make things perfect for her family. Fruits and vegetables were canned and frozen in the summer, and enjoyed all winter long. Every summer the family enjoyed a vacation to a northern Minnesota lake for a week. Clothes, food, and supplies were packed up for a week of fun. An awesome trip to South Dakota was a family highlight, one that none of her children will forget. All of Erna's children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have a crocheted masterpiece. Custom designing afghans became a hobby later in life and everyone got one suited to the right size, color, and pattern. Erna made God the center of her life, her children accepted Christ in their lives at an early age and find comfort in knowing their mom has finally found eternal life with her Savior. Survived by her daughters, Gloria (George) Knox of Shirland, Sonia (Mark) Miller of Rockford, Pam Whalen of Janesville, WI, and Joan (Chuck) Krueger of Freeport; sons, Steven (Kelani) Whalen of Lake Forest, CA, and Roger (Kimberley) Whalen of Tempe, AZ; 11 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. Also predeceased by her brother, Robert Utzke. Erna's family is abundantly thankful for the love, support, and care provided by the staff at Hospice of America. A fantastic group of caregivers who left personal cares behind to give superior care to their mom. Visiting angels, specifically Pam Wilson, has the family's utmost gratitude in providing exceptional care. Pam provided selfless time, activities, food and more to make each visit remarkable. Funeral Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 10, 2018 in First Baptist Church, 5304 Charles St., Rockford, IL with Reverend David Huffstutler officiating. Visitation will be from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. prior to the service in the church. Entombment in Sunset Mausoleum, Machesney Park, IL. To share a memory or send an online condolence, visit

Condolences & Shared Memories (3)

  1. Ronette Wenberg

    I was in Erna's TOPS chapter for many years. We always enjoyed her company as she was so pleasant and always had a smile on her face. I have made a few cakes for her and the family through the years. Our thoughts are with your family at this time. We remember her fondly.

  2. Diana Chaplin

    I know you will miss her. You have my sympathy. It is so hard going on without your mother and thinking of things you'd like to ask or tell her. Remember the great memories.

  3. Linda Huffstutler

    We have prayed often for Erna. We met at First Baptist Church Rockford where she had been a member for many years. Erna had faith in the words of Jesus that whoever believes in him has eternal life, and that he has prepared a place in heaven for those who trust him and keep his word. Though we shall miss her, we do not grieve in despair, but with certain hope that we shall meet her again. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."

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