A memorial visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, April 5, at Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home in Rock Island. Private graveside services and burial will be at Rock Island Memorial Park Cemetery. Memorials may be sent to The Nature Conservancy, Wisconsin Field Office, 633 W. Main St., Madison, WI 53703.
A surgeon in the Quad-Cities area for many years, Decker had a lifelong interest in the natural world, with a particular interest in birds and bird lore. He especially enjoyed hunting the woods, fields and streams of the area with his family and Springer Spaniel dogs.
Born in Davenport to Catharine Decker Lardner and James Francis Lardner, Decker spent many boyhood days with his brothers, Jim and Peter, learning woodcraft, bird knowledge and poetry at the Davenport home of his grandfather. With childhood friends, he hunted, observed and listened to birds in the woods and woodlands of his Moline neighborhood. Decker developed a keen eye and deep knowledge of local and migrating bird life; he collected songbird specimens for the Putnam Museum and led bird walks for the Audubon Society when barely into his teens. A pair of binoculars always was within reach.
He attended Moline public schools and graduated from St. Ambrose Academy in Davenport. He was an Eagle Scout. He went on to serve in the U.S. Navy in 1945 in the Pacific theater. He attended the University of Iowa and earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago in 1952.
Decker served his internship at the Montreal General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, where he met his future wife, Beverley Ann MacEwan, of Montreal, Canada. In 1953, they married in St. Jean, Quebec, and moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where he completed his surgical residency at the VA Hospital in Iowa City and the University of Iowa Hospital.
The couple moved to the Quad-Cities in 1959. While building his surgical practice, Decker saw many patients as staff medical doctor at International Harvester. He went on to practice 40 years as a general surgeon and served as president of the medical staff of the former Moline Public Hospital for a year. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Board of Surgeons, a member of the Rock Island County Medical Society, the former Tri-City Journal Club and the former RI Arsenal Golf Club and a commissioner on the board of the Metropolitan International Airport. He was widely respected for his exacting standards and good sense.
Decker had a mischievous wit and sense of humor, often put to use in writing "doggerel verse," including this, "A Cyber Lament," written in 2010:
What is heard now, alas and alack
We are threatened by cyber attack
I've never feared mice
Nor rats with their lice
But those hackers won't cut us much slack.
With the PCs and laptops, now iPods
I have labored in vain till my head nods
Yet our ancient Corona
Ill suits my persona
And I'll fade with the rest of the clods.
In recent years, Decker and Beverley enjoyed many summers with children and grandchildren at their lakeside cottage in northern Wisconsin. They also traveled widely, taking walking tours to the British Isles, Ireland, several European countries and Cape Breton of Canada, spending many hours with friends and family, both old and new.
Decker is survived by his wife, Beverley; and their four children, Stephen (Cecilia Burke) Lardner, Mundelein, Ill., David (Traci) Lardner, Austin, Texas, James (Kathy) Lardner, Oklahoma City, Okla., and Maggie Lardner (Hal) Watson, River Falls, Wis.; as well as 10 grandchildren, Will and Burke Lardner, Lauren, Hannah and James Lardner, Nicole and Decker Lardner and Maura, Garth and Seth Watson; and a beloved Springer Spaniel, Andy. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Jim and Peter.
Online condolences may be left at wheelanpressly.com.
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