Phillip Edward Gokey, age 86, died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer Wednesday
November 22nd, 2017 under the tender care provided by the Madison VA Hospital Community
Living Center Hospice.
Phil was born in 1931 in Prairie du Chien to Peter and Levina [St Jacque] Gokey, as the youngest of
9 and already an uncle! After graduating high school in 1949, he joined the Navy and served aboard
ship from 1951 to 1955 primarily as radar operator in the Pacific on a Destroyer Escort. He
received 7 battle stars during the Korean Conflict and was honorably discharged in 1955.
Then he attended UW Madison, graduating with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He met his former
spouse, Mary LaDuke, at school and raised his family and a hodgepodge of animals on a hobby
farm in Whitewater WI. After retirement, he returned to live in Madison where he met his partner,
Jan Hagen, enjoyed ballroom dancing, and volunteered at Olbrich Gardens and the Madison voting
Phil lived a rich life filled with many interests and a never-ending quest for learning, inventing, and
trying new things. A few of his interests included hunting, fishing, canoeing, gardening, beekeeping,
boxing, playing guitar, square dancing, running, reading, writing, and cooking. He loved returning
to Prairie du Chien to visit his hometown, fish the banks of the Mississippi, and eat at Pete's
hamburger stand which was started in 1909 by his father. As the family historian he spent years
researching, collecting, and compiling genealogical records. Some of his elaborate and artistic
extended family tree drawings are on display in the Fort Crawford Museum in Prairie du Chien.
He is survived by his children Matt (Faith) and their children Cybil and Ben, Sarah Yao (James),
Ben (Elise) and baby Marc, and Aaron (Lillie); his domestic partner and dance partner Jan Hagen,
and their dog Bruno.
A modest celebration of life memorial service will be held December 9th at Lake Edge Lutheran
Church in Madison WI. Visitation at 9:30, service at 11:00 with light lunch to follow. In lieu of
flowers, donations may be made in his honor to Olbrich Botanical Gardens, The Spinal CSF Leak
Foundation, or the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.