Richard Franklin Herken

Richard Franklin Herken, age 79 of LaFarge, died Sunday November 24, 2019.

Sample ImageRichard Franklin Herken (Bubba), 79, of La Farge passed away peacefully at home Sunday, November 24, 2019.

Rich was born January 24, 1940, to Agnes Martha (Schmidt) and James Thomas Herken, in Leavenworth, Kansas.  He was raised in Easton, Kansas, and graduated from Easton High School in 1958, where he was a football star and earned the nickname “The Kansas Rocket”.

Rich enlisted in the Air Force after high school.  While stationed in Madison, Wisconsin, he met the love of his life, Paula Gabrielson.  They were married December 15, 1962, at the Truax Field Chapel in Madison.  They were married for 53 years until her death in 2016.  Rich and Paula loved the military life in the Air Force that spanned 20 years, seven states, seven children and countless close friends. They traveled cross country with a disheveled clan of seven children; with a large family their pocketbooks might be poor, but they were always rich in experiences. They could make any afternoon an adventure.  Service, faith, and fun became the pillars of life for Rich, Paula, and their children.  Rich retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant in November, 1979 and they moved to Paula’s hometown of La Farge, WI. Rich got a job with the US Post Office in La Crosse and worked there until his retirement in 1998.  He was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Viroqua, WI. 

After his retirement, Rich and Paula enjoyed gambling, traveling, hosting family gatherings, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.  Each grandchild was a celebration. Despite his booming voice they instantly fell in love with “their Pop”. Rich always embraced the mischief of life with the grandkids and those stories are the legends they will pass along to the next generation. Rich enjoyed watching his kids and grandkids play sports, and supported the La Farge Wildcats, too.  You could hear him loud and proud when he was in attendance at a game! Rich loved the Packers, Kansas City Royals, and Kansas Jayhawks and was usually decked out in team colors on game day. 

Rich was the rare combination of laughter, love, loudness, hugs, and tenderness.  He raised seven rambunctious kids and half of La Farge.   Rich wanted a better life for his kids. He did all he could to give them joy, from turning his yard into a golf course, to putting in  the “summer hangout,” the pool, to hosting rook games or bean bag tournaments (complete with flood lights). Rich was happiest when his large clan of children where around him making memories.   His warm sense of humor had so many kids call him “Bubba”, “Poppy,” or “Uncle Rich,” with laughter in their hearts.

Rich lived life bigger than life. We only loved him more as he took on Mom’s role. Trying to remember every grandchild and great grandchild’s birthday with a card as Mom would have done. He was heartbroken. We are solaced knowing that he passed peacefully in his chair where he cheered on his beloved Pack and rocked countless grandbabies. Grammy’s picture his constant companion, in the chair beside him. We are broken, yet he is healed. Love survives.

Rich is survived by his children, Cynthia (Jeff) Campbell, Blake (Amy Lund) Herken, Jennifer (Brad) Parker, Corrine (Richard) Fisk, Richelle (Eric) Zimmerman, Roger (Ingrid) Herken, and Richard (Amber) Herken, Jr.; 19 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren, Beth (Jason) Sumwalt, Kristi (Eugene) Kelbel, Mallory (Brian) Zielke, Collin (Danielle) Campbell, Leah (Christopher) Harry, Samantha (Alex) Bournoville, Olivia Herken, Ryan Herken, Gabrielle (Jon) Ames, Jacob Parker, Brittni Fisk, Wyatt Fisk, Madisyn Fisk, Camryn Zimmerman, Landyn Zimmerman, Jaden Fargen, Sarah French, Tysen Herken, Miaya Campbell, Gavin Campbell, Treyton Schmidt, Lexi Kelbel, Lauryn Sumwalt, Brooklyn Sumwalt, Holden Harry, Sawyer Harry, and Eli Harry. He is also survived by, his brother, James Thomas Herken; sisters-in-law, Doris Herken, Stella Herken, and Peggy Gabrielson; brothers-in-law, Bradley (Jo) Gabrielson, Lee (Greta) Gabrielson, and Kris Gabrielson; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Rich was preceded in death by his loving wife Paula, parents, James and Agnes Herken, beloved grandson Jesse Parker, and siblings James Herken, Joseph Francis Herken, Bernadette Agnes Chmidling, Kenneth Leon Herken, Thomas Joseph Herken, Helen Theresa Rowland, and Mary Louis Gwartney. He was also preceded by his many loving pets especially, his boxer, Gracie.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Richard will be Saturday November 30, 2019 at 11:00 AM. at St. Mary’s Annunciation Catholic Church, 400 Congress St. and Broadway in Viroqua. Father’s Charles Richmond of St. Mary’s and Father Daniel Parr of Holmen WI will con-celebrate the Mass. Burial with full Militay Honors at Bear Creek Cemetery in LaFarge will follow a reception at the church. Visitation will be held from 5 until 7 p.m. with a Rosary to be prayed at 7 p.m., Friday, November 29, at Vosseteig Funeral Home, 203 N. State St. in La Farge. Visitation will also be held from 10:00 until the time of service at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, November 30, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials in Rich’s name be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Remembering Jesse Parker, Inc., a breast cancer research organization, or animal shelter of your choice. 

Online condolences may be offered at

Vosseteig Funeral Home, 203 N. State St. in La Farge, is assisting the family. (608) 6254244. 

© 2019 Vosseteig Funeral Homes