Vernon Bruce Polk (Von) loving husband, father, grandfather, patriot, and probably a better dancer than you died Friday, April 15th, 2022.
Von was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1944, to James Wallace Polk and Mae Louise Polk (née Lauder). His father’s government occupation led to a childhood of continuous relocation. Von lived in several places growing up, including Texas, Hong Kong, New York, and Washington DC. Von’s upbringing ingrained in him a love for his country and horses, and a general dislike of any and all authority figures. When Von’s mother was pregnant with him, she was stung on the belly twice by a scorpion, which some say may have contributed to his general disposition later in life. But Von had a truly generous heart. He was genuinely a wonderful man.
Von studied history and played football at Southern Illinois University. He was an advertising executive early in his career, and later went on to a career in business training. He partnered with Ken Blanchard and opened Video Publishing House in the 1980’s. His career in business won him several prestigious awards, including the Grand Award at International Film and TV Festival of New York in 1984, and took him around the world. He has flown over 2 million miles on American Airlines and was once featured in the Wall Street Journal as a mysterious man in a cowboy hat drinking Bloody Mary’s in an article about the company’s Admiral’s Clubs. When the 20th century came to a close, Von decided to switch gears and started a company with his children and soon-to-be son-in-law that focused on video and film production. That company has won numerous awards, including several Emmys.
Von left Texas at an early age, but Texas never left Von. He was most comfortable in a cowboy hat and boots, a long silver mane and mustache, and his wardrobe primarily consisted of the color black. If he liked you he would greet you with “Hey Partner” or an infectiously charming “Hey Darlin’!” If he didn’t like you, it was best to steer clear of him, for he was genuine and authentic. He loved to discuss politics, but never ran for office because he was “a little worried about what they might dig up on me.” Von’s hobbies were prolific throughout the years. He loved boating, golfing, fishing, western horseback riding, skiing, painting, researching, writing, and reading: he was a true Renaissance man. One of his favorite hobbies was locating old, discarded items and making them beautiful again. He was a member of the Knights of the Magna Carta and Sons of the American Revolution. He was intensely proud to be a multi-generation American, and also of his Scottish ancestry. His homes were always filled with collections of artifacts and relics from American, Chinese, and Vietnamese history.
Von enjoyed the company of intelligent, talented women, negating the adage that opposites attract. This is evidenced by his present marriage of 20 years to Margaret Kozak Polk PhD. and his first marriage of 25 years with Michelene Ignatius Polk with whom he had three children.
In his retirement, Von loved golfing, beautifying his home, researching topics of interest, and drinking Coronas with Margaret on their deck enjoying the natural beauty of Lake Geneva.
Von was preceded in death by his parents James and Mae, and his brother James E. Polk (Ellen née Ludders). He is survived by wife Margaret and ex-wife Michelene, daughters Jennifer Robins and husband Christian; Kristin Viox and husband Matthew; son John and wife Caroline (née Mikula); and grandchildren Evie, Cash, Gracie, Layla, Luke, Tommy and Judd. He loved his family dearly and they will forever love him.
Services for Von will be held Friday April 22, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. in the main chapel at the Derrick Funeral Home in Lake Geneva. Visitation will be Friday from 1:30 p.m. until time of services.
In lieu of other expressions of sympathy donations are requested to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A link has been provided below.
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Derrick Funeral Home of Lake Geneva is honored to be assisting Von's family.
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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
262 Danny Thoma Place, Memphis TN 38105