Vernon James Pickett, age 79, of Eyota died of heart failure Thursday, July 15, 2021, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. Following high school in Eyota, Vernon married Carol Sanden in Lake Mills, Iowa, in 1963. They raised two beautiful daughters in Iowa and were later divorced.
In 1981, Vernon returned to Eyota and happened upon his pre-high school, Dover, Minnesota, roller rink sweetheart, Barbara (Menard) Brobst and married her. They celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in February. Vernon was self- employed all of his life and retired as owner of Shine-Way Window Service and Pickett’s Circus. The circus came into being as the result of Vern and Barb’s love of animals, especially exotics, and for many years one animal or another was forever romping through the house or being bottle fed. From tigers and lions to monkeys and African Pigmy hedgehogs, they were all given Vern’s love and returned it three-fold. Circus wagons were fabricated in his shop, decorative scrolls hand-carved and starburst wheels painted. Vern also enjoyed racing Sprint Cars and Midgets in his younger days and was Upper Midwest Drag Champion with his Jeep “Zorro.” Vern’s raceday tent once provided sanctuary for Paul Newman while he was escaping his overzealous fans. Later hobbies included more wood carving and G-scale trains.
Vernon is survived by his wife, Barbara; his two daughters and their spouses, Kim and Dave Schloesser and Michelle and Andy Arnburg; two step-sons, Scott (Ivy) Brobst and Jeffrey Brobst; as well as a brother, Gerald “Jerry” Pickett; sister, Dorothy Olson; and grandchildren Drew and Alex Schloesser, Brianna and Elizabeth Arnburg, Blakeley (Brobst) Kantor, and Hannah, Tybee and Jayden Brobst. He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Mildred (Hein) Pickett; and one brother, Richard Pickett. As per Vernon’s wishes, he will be cremated with a private family celebration of life later in the fall.
Schad & Zabel Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.