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Bo Erland Vanman was surrounded by his loved ones when he passed away at his home on July 2, 2018, at the age of 78. Born in Umeå, Sweden, Bo immigrated to the United States in 1948 with his parents, Sven and Edla, and his siblings, Bert and Maj Siri. The family initially settled in Missouri Valley, Iowa, but later moved to the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. There Bo quickly adopted the language and accent of his new country and became a star athlete at school. One of the high points of his life was when he played starting guard on the Wayzata High School basketball team and they took the state championship in 1959. After high school, Bo served two years in the U.S. Navy, which included his ship supporting the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. When he left the Navy in 1961 he enrolled at St. Cloud State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in education. He met and married his first wife, Norma Sampson, during this time. They later moved to the Wayzata area where Bo was a teacher and Norma was a nurse. They had four children: Eric, Darron, Aaron, and Kristin. After two years of being a sixth-grade teacher, Bo decided he had had enough of school politics and took a job as the personnel director at Pako Corporation, which at one time was the world’s largest supplier of photographic developing equipment.
In 1973 Bo moved his family to northern Illinois, where he became the director of personnel at Woods, a manufacturer of rotary mowers. During the summer of 1975 the company sent Bo and the family to Wagga Wagga, Australia, to help expand the international salesforce team. He continued to work at the Oregon, IL company for 20 years, where he developed many close friendships. Bo and Norma eventually divorced and Bo later married Shirley Hill in 1987. They maintained a beautiful home on Rockford’s southside, but during a corporate takeover of Woods in 1993, Bo was ousted from his position (along with his colleagues), forcing him to retire at the age of 53. Bo and Shirley decided to live out the majority of their retirement years in the large golfing community of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, where he enjoyed playing golf as many as three times a week--when he was lucky. He was also able to fish, go boating, and socialize with other HSV residents.
Bo and “Shirl” had nearly 31 years together and enjoyed frequent visits by their children from their earlier marriages. They also enjoyed going on many cruises, sometimes with family members and sometimes with their good friends, Mike and Rawnie Dawson. They saw much of the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Baltic, and the Pacific Ocean together. Bo and Shirley even managed to circumnavigate South America. Together they attended their children’s weddings, grandchildren’s (and great grandchildren’s) birthday celebrations, and other family events. In 2017 the couple moved back to Rockford to be closer to family.
Those who knew Bo were accustomed to his dry sense of humor, which was evident even until his final days. He liked to talk about politics, give investment advice to anyone who would listen, share Ole & Lena jokes, and reminisce about his Swedish relatives and his family’s life in the small village of Degersjö, just outside of Umeå. He loved gardening and had a knack for landscaping. Bo also had strong sense of ethics—he was the kind of person who would immediately tell a clerk when she had given him too much back in change. His great weakness was his need for cigarettes, which led to his ultimate health problems. It was a habit he tried to kick many times, but his parents and siblings were all smokers too, and thus it became a major part of his life early on, despite pleas from his family members over the years to give it up.
Bo leaves behind his loving wife Shirley, his three sons: Eric (Vikki) Vanman, Darron Vanman, Aaron Vanman, and three grandchildren—Ashley, Whitney, and William. He was also a loving stepfather to Shirley’s children, Mike (Karen) Hill, Pat (Gail) Hill, Tim (Brenda) Hill, and Kathy Chavez, and grandchildren: Erin Hill, Angela (Andrew) Neumeyer, Nicolas (Cassandra) Hill, Jonas (Suhail) Shaffer, Steven (Liz) Hill, Ryan (Tracy) Hill and Emma Hill and numerous great grandchildren.
He was predeceased by his parents; brother, Bert; sister, Maj Siri; daughter, Kristin; step-son, David Hill; grandchildren, John Hill and Angela Schaffer.
As we mourn the loss of Bo Vanman, it is perhaps helpful to think of the Swedish proverb, Efter regn kommer solsken -- After rain comes sunshine. May we all remember Bo fondly in the sunny days that will surely come again. A celebration of his life will be held on September 28, 2018 at Honquest Family Funeral Homes with Crematory, 4311 N. Mulford Rd., Loves Park, Illinois at 11:00 a.m. with visitation from 10:00 a.m. until time of service.
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