David Van Pernis ’74

David Van Pernis, 66 of Rockford, Illinois, died peacefully in Mercy Hospital on Monday, March 10th.

Born June 2, 1952, David attended Jackson School and Lincoln Middle School. He enjoyed athletics in high school participating on both football and swim teams before graduating from Guilford in 1970. He attended Hope college earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He was an inventive, visionary sculptor and a superb cabinetmaker, whose work was characterized by consummate craftsmanship and meticulous detail.

His family and friends will celebrate his often understated personality, boundless curiosity, playful sense of humor, artistic sensibility, magnificent Victorian birdhouses, delectable smoked fish, and always being “everybody’s favorite uncle”. David was a lifelong student of history who became an ardent activist and preservationist. Through intense research, David discovered that many local Indian Mound Sites had been thoughtlessly destroyed in the name of progress, and made it his mission to save what remained in Rockford. His tireless efforts benefited Beattie Park and its Indian Mounds.

While living on Indian Terrace and serving on its Preservation Association, he became a champion of the Beattie Family and their legacy to Rockford. His passionate commitment to the preservation of the Park as originally deeded and saving the remaining downtown e?gy mounds earned him various accolades. Among them were: “Heart of Rockford” Award, recognition from the Burpee Natural History Museum, and Restoration Education’s “Preservationist of the Year” Award in 1991. Considering the mounds “a sacred trust on a consecrated spot”, he did so with a deep appreciation for those who built the mounds and those who would inherit them as the Beattie Family desired.

In large part, David Van Pernis and the Indian Terrace Preservation Association are responsible for Beattie Park’s Nation Historic Landmark status. David was the son of the late Dr. Paul A and Sally (Sterken) Van Pernis. Survivors include his sisters: Mary Harrington (John), Sarah (Kurt) Bell, Priscilla (Robert) French, Brothers: Mark (Kristi), Paul (Eileen), Tom (Rose) and Jim, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

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