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Vernon Pohlmann

May 21, 1920 — February 3, 2020

Vernon Pohlmann

Vernon C. Pohlmann, 99, of Normal, passed away at 7:37 p.m. on Monday, February 3, 2020 at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal.

A private family service will be held. Interment will be at New Bethlehem Memorial Park Cemetery in St. Louis, MO. Kibler-Brady-Ruestman Memorial Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Memorial contributions may be made to Christ Lutheran Church, the Pohlmann Fund at Illinois State University, or to an organization of the donor's choice.

Vernon was born on May 21, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri, a son of William and Clara Pohlmann. He married Elsie D. Uppendahl on February 8, 1946 in St. Louis, MO. She preceded him in death on July 3, 2004, after fifty-eight years of marriage.

Surviving are his sons, James and Kenneth; grandsons, Michael (Samantha Schultz) and Kevin (Ali), and great-grandsons Tucker and August Vernon. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife and, a sister, Wilma Hashagen.

Vernon was a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Normal, he was a Sunday school teacher, leader of youth groups, co-sponsor of the Lutheran Club at Illinois State University, and National Vice President of the Gamma Delta Lutheran Youth Organization. He also studied sociology of religion at the University of Chicago (1941-42).

He served in the United States Army Air Corps in World War II, in the Pacific Theater. In that conflict, in one particular action, enemy forces extended their furthest advance to threaten the Allied troops stationed at the Jorhat India Air Base. As a statistical control officer he was ordered to command a cadre of clerks and cooks to defend an outpost at any cost if the Allied army failed. He was awarded two bronze stars. Following the war, he was honorably discharged as a captain. He was a member of Post 635 of the American Legion.

Vernon earned BA, MA, and PhD degrees at Washington University in St. Louis. After the war, he held teaching and administrative positions in the St. Louis Public School system. While budget director of the school district, he co-researched and was co-author of a field study and report on the cost to society of segregated education. In 1954, this report was cited by Thurgood Marshall and others before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. In this landmark and unanimous decision, the Court ruled that state laws permitting racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional. Further, the Court ruled that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." He considered his contribution to the plaintiff's case to be the most significant act of his career.

He joined the faculty of Illinois State Normal University in 1955. He chaired the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (1966-69), and was selected to present the Arts and Sciences Lecture (1973). He served as Vice President and President of the local American Association of University Professors (1964-67), President of the Illinois Sociological Association (1966-67), and Secretary of the Midwest Sociological Society (1967-71). He also consulted with College of Education faculty for more than twenty school and community college district studies. He chaired and co-chaired many ISU committees, including one on inter-racial issues and development of the High Potential Student Program (1968-69). He was a member for four years of the Board of ISU Annuitants Association. He was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at ISU, a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Emeritus Faculty Advisory Board, and was inducted into the College Hall of Fame (2008).

Vernon presented over thirty papers, and was the author of twenty-seven articles and monographs, cited by numerous organizations, commissions, districts, and cities. He involved students in much of his research, blending theory and practice to address social issues such as long-range planning and promoting inter-governmental cooperation. His establishment and funding of the Pohlmann Fund at ISU seeks to continue that blend. He was an organizer of the State of Illinois Data Center. His demographic research was recognized by the United States Census Bureau in several ways, including the acceptance of his corrections to the census resulting in adding Federal funds for low-income schools.

As a Town of Normal Councilman (1960-64), Vernon worked for long-range planning, appointment of a city administrator (later named city manager), and approval of recommendations by a committee of outstanding citizens which he recruited to improve the water system. He was the leading researcher for McLean County position papers for White House Conferences on Aging (1960) and on Youth (1970), serving as a delegate for the 1960 conference.

On the board of United Way for three decades, serving as both Vice-President (1971) and as a delegate to the State Board of Directors, he and his students conducted many community studies, resulting in national recognition. Beginning in 1985, he served as a volunteer for Home Sweet Home Ministries. He and his wife were named Volunteers of the Year in 1995.

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