On July 7, 2021, Rockford lost one of its beloved native sons, Gerald (Jerry) Wayne LaFayette, to natural causes.
Born to Gunhild Elvira Schelin and Lincoln Grant LaFayette on July 18,1940 at Rockford Memorial Hospital, he spent his entire life and livelihood here. Jerry is survived by his two sisters: Marcia (John) Carmichael of Erie, CO, and Cynthia (Dennis) Laumer of San Antonio, TX, and predeceased by his best friend and brother, Larry (Barbara) LaFayette of Rockford. Jerry was blessed with 3 children: Amy (Tom) MacAdam of Colorado Springs, CO, Garett (Amber) LaFayette of Cottage Grove, WI, and Adriana (Mike) Plocinski of Batavia, IL, and their mother, Barbara (Denis) Anderson of Loves Park. His ten grandchildren who kept him on his toes are Quinn MacAdam of Pensacola, FL; Jake (Megan) MacAdam of Wheaton, IL; Charlie, Marina, and Elena MacAdam of Colorado Springs; Adele and Aurelie LaFayette of Cottage Grove and Tyler, Lucas, and Colton Plocinski of Batavia. His first great-grandchild is due early August.
Jerry was a lifelong fixture in Rockford. Son of a rough-and-tumble Iowa farm boy and a beautiful Swedish city girl, his early years were spent running the neighborhood on Rockton Avenue and later, Quincy Street where he worked a paper route. He was a graduate of West High School, Southern Illinois University, and John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Before he began his 50 yearlong practice of law, he was found working side-by-side with his father washing the windows and mopping the floors of downtown Rockford businesses. Although it was his joy to help Rockford’s residents with their legal needs, it was those days that he spoke most frequently and fondly of – learning the grit, the work ethic, and the common sense that that work taught him. Directly after graduating law school, Jerry served both as a Winnebago County Public Defender and later, an Assistant State’s Attorney for a few years before going into private practice with various firms before forming Victor & LaFayette, and finally The Law Offices of Gerald LaFayette. In work and life, Jerry was known for his fairness, kindness, generosity and always “looking out for the little guy".
Never losing sight of his agrarian roots, Jerry always had a hand in the dirt, planting anything that offered a chance of growing as well as hunting and fishing. Anyone who knew him, knew that Jerry loved cars and races, collecting a few here and there, including his beloved Shelbys. In his later years, Jerry became an avid reader, loving a good history book on any topic and thoroughly enjoyed his morning coffee groups discussing said texts. Like his dear parents, Jerry had the “gift of gab” and could talk to any person from any walk of life for hours and was sure to treat them to one of his fantastical stories. His ultimate pride and joy was his family, whom he gifted many memorable summers together - boating and fishing and all the campfire things - at his cabin, Fernwood II, on Lake Chicaugon, Michigan. There, he helped forge a kind of creature that came to be known as “Lake Rats” (aka his children), who learned to embrace the great outdoors in a deeper, more appreciative way.
Jerry loved attending his grandchildren’s endless number of sports games, as well as recitals, Grandparents Day school events, and family get-togethers. He only cheated at cards a little. His nephews, Lincoln (Wendy) LaFayette and Jamie (Dawn) LaFayette; and niece, Holly (Jim) Fiorini, and all their dear children were a special blessing to him with their lively company and devoted, selfless, care they gave him right up to his final days.
We welcome you to join us as we celebrate the inimitable life of our Gerald Wayne LaFayette at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, July 16, 2021 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 200 N. 1st St., Rockford, IL 61107. A private burial service will follow.
“As long as we remember a person, they are not really gone. Their thoughts, their feelings and their memories become a part of us.” S. Cronin
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