Ronald Korth


Rochelle — Ronald F. Korth, 73, passed away peacefully Wednesday, June 3, 2020 with his family by his side at his home.  Ron was born on Aug. 30, 1946 to Arnold J. and Marie V. (Wichman) Korth in DeKalb. He proudly served with the United States Army from 1967 to 1969. On June 24, 1972, he married Mary McCaslin in rural Rochelle. 

Ron enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from Shabbona High School. He served as an aircraft commander in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne, piloting a Huey helicopter. He saw a lot of action, including the battle of Dak To, Hill 875, and the Tet Offensive. His favorite missions were with the long-range reconnaissance patrol. After his tour, he was a flight instructor at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

After leaving the Army, his friend, Chuck Hendrickson, helped him get a job as a crop duster. He then went on to graduate from the University of Illinois in 1980 with a Bachelors in Agricultural Education. He taught high school agriculture for a year, then went back to his first love, crop dusting. He was a crop duster for 50 years and was a mentor to many aspiring young pilots along the way. Among his many lifetime accomplishments, Ron worked hard to obtain his Airframe & Powerplant Mechanic and Inspection Authorization certificates. Over the years, Ron totaled more than 90,000 hours in helicopters. He also found time to teach welding part-time at Kishwaukee College for 20 years. 

In the off season, when Ron wasn’t flying, he enjoyed being with his family, working on projects with “the boys at the hangar” and finishing the day off with a beer and some popcorn. He was a proud member of the American Legion and the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Ron, a lifelong Catholic, is best remembered as a humble, hardworking man whose quiet strength provided comfort to all. He was a loving father, husband, grandfather, brother, and friend. Kind and patient, he was an unwavering rock to those who were lucky enough to know him.      

In addition to his parents, Ron is preceded in death by his sister and brother-in-law, Val Jean and Thomas Emerling; brother-in-law, Burl Rainwater; and granddaughter, Lizzie Marie Horner. 

Ron is survived by his wife of 47 years, Mary of Rochelle; four daughters, Hillary (Jared) Johnson of Rochelle, Tabbitha (Kurtis) Kramer of Eldridge, Iowa, Chrystina (Derek) Horner of Rochelle, and Maurissa (Dillon) Fournier of Charleston, South Carolina; four siblings, Marlene (Alan) Prestegaard of Lee, Jeannine Korth of Knoxville, Tennessee, Ilene Rainwater of Townsend, Tennessee, and LaRene (Steve) Anderson of Sugar Grove; seven grandchildren, Corinne Simms, Nathaniel, Wesley and Alexander Kramer and Joah, Afton and Kort Horner and many nieces and nephews.

The private funeral mass will be held Monday, June 8 at St. Patrick Catholic Church with Father Ruben Herrera officiating. For those that are unable to attend the mass, it will be live streamed on the Unger-Horner Funeral Home Facebook page. There will be Celebration of Life gathering at a later date. Burial will follow the service at Woodlawn Cemetery in Creston.

Memorials may be made in Ron’s memory to Rochelle American Legion or the Experimental Aircraft Association, EAA.

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