Bob Berg, 76, of Detroit, MI, passed away on Wednesday, May 8, 2019.
Born April 1, 1943, in Watseka, Illinois, Berg, the eldest of four children, grew up on farms in central Illinois and later earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Wesleyan University, where he wrote for the college newspaper, the Argus, working his way up from a sports writer to the paper's editor by the end of his senior year.
After college, he held reporting roles in Iowa and Nebraska before landing in Lansing where he headed up a state capitol bureau for United Press International, covering Gov. William G. Milliken and Michigan State University sports.
Berg later became state capitol bureau chief of Panax Newspapers and by 1977, was hired in the public affairs office of Milliken, the longest-serving governor in Michigan history.
Berg held the role until Milliken left state government in 1982.
The following month, Berg was hired as press secretary to Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young, the city’s first black mayor.
David Ashenfelter, a former Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reporter and longtime friend of Berg's, said Berg was a presence in Detroit and a top-notch press officer.
"Bob had a way of being able to get things done that ordinarily would be difficult," he said. "He was the only press secretary for Coleman Young that lasted. I was around for four of them. … He had a special relationship with Coleman Young."
Ashenfelter said he'll remember Berg as a great friend, outstanding person and exceptional press secretary.
"Those of us who knew him, worked with him and enjoyed his company are going to miss him.”
Berg wound up serving Young for 11 years, through several city crises and scandals. Berg left in January 1994 when Young retired.
Berg said his years working with Young, both before and after he left office, had a particular impact on him.
“I’m a kid who grew up on a small farm in east central Illinois,” Berg said earlier this year in an interview with Ashenfelter, who observed four decades of Berg’s career. “The chance I had to come to Detroit and work closely with Mayor Young for all those years, looking over his shoulder and learning on literally a daily basis about race, urban issues, politics, and life, in general, had a profound influence on me that has continued until today.”
Both Milliken and Young, Berg said in a recent interview, "were deeply committed to the idea that holding office is a public trust."
“Both men had a fundamental commitment to creating equal opportunity at all levels and to confronting and solving urban issues," he said
Bill McGraw, a veteran journalist who covered City Hall for the Detroit Free Press during a portion of Young’s two final terms, said Berg was calm, treated everyone with respect and was trustworthy.
“I couldn’t have more respect for him as both a person and the mayor’s spokesperson,” McGraw said. “He was a low-key guy and that was one of the reasons for his success. He always was in the background.”
McGraw recalled Berg defended Young and the city in the face of attacks locally and beyond.
"He was a major defender of Detroit," he said.
After Young left office, Berg opened a public relations firm in the city with the help of former public relations executive Marcie Brogan.
In 1998, Berg and Georgella Muirhead, who had worked with Berg as director of Detroit’s Public Information Department, joined forces to form Berg Muirhead and Associates in Detroit.
They later sold the firm in 2016 to two of their long-time employees, Peter Van Dyke and Marilyn Horn, who continued their legacy. Berg stayed on, offering counsel.
Van Dyke on Wednesday said Berg was a mentor "to everyone he came into contact with."
“He did everything in his power to help others be better at what they did,” he said. “That includes me.”
Berg, he said, advised top political and business leaders and, to those who knew him, "he became your moral compass."
"Bob is known for being one of the most trusted advisors that one could ever ask for," Van Dyke told The News. "Bob is one of a kind. You don't find somebody who is so humbly in service of others like Bob. And it's a huge gap in our community to have him not with us anymore."
During his years in Detroit, Berg worked to form a partnership between the Detroit Public Schools and his alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan University, in which the college became the only non-Michigan university to participate in DPS’ Wade McCree Scholarship Program.
Berg was honored in 2014 by New Detroit, Inc., with a John Rakolta Jr. Leadership in Race Relations Award and was recognized in 2018 by the Urban League of Detroit as one of its Distinguished Warriors.
When he wasn’t working, Bob was an avid runner and cross-country skier and was extremely proud of his 1973 Porsche 911T.
He served on the boards of the Coleman A. Young Foundation, which provides college scholarships to promising students; on the board of the Roeper School, a private school in Birmingham for gifted children; the Detroit Police Foundation; the Detroit Urban League board and the board of CATCH, which helps ailing children at Henry Ford and Children’s hospitals. He also was a member of Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Asked how he would like to be remembered, Berg said: “As somebody who in some ways made contributions and left the world a little bit better place.”
Berg is survived by his long-time partner, Wanda Brock, three children: Erik of Portland, Oregon, Melanie Berg of Lansing and Lola Kristina Gibson-Berg of Detroit, daughter-in-law Shannon Berg of Portland, and four grandchildren: Hayeden of Lansing and Charlie, Fran and Ingrid of Portland. He also is survived by a sister, Karen Dolan, of Western Springs, Ill; and brother, Glenn, of Cissna Park. A third brother, Richard, died in 1960.
Visitation will be held on Monday, May 20, 2019 from 9am-11am, at the Cissna Park United Methodist Church in Cissna Park, IL. Funeral Services will follow at 11:00 am with Minister Molly Spence-Hawk officiating.
Burial will follow at Floral Hill Cemetery in Hoopeston, IL.
Charlie Sweeney, 79, of Watseka, IL, passed away on Friday, May 17, 2019.
He was born April 16, 1940 in Watseka, IL, the son of Harold Sweeney and LaVella (Busing) Sweeney.
Charlie married Lillian “Candy” Jenkins in Watseka, IL on December 26, 1980.
Mr. Sweeney was a truck driver for Schneider for over thirty years as a transporter. He enjoyed woodworking. In his free time after retiring he volunteered for IMH and the Regional Health Center.
Surviving Mr. Sweeney is his wife, Lillian “Candy” Sweeney of Watseka, IL; son, Scott Sweeney of Midlothian, IL; daughters, Rachel and Roger Ehmpke of Bourbonnais, IL, Lynda and George Albright of Watseka, and Beth Jenkins of Watseka; grandchildren, Scotty Sweeney, Stephanie Roberts, Amanda Sweeney, Jolene Sweeney, Jordyn Ehmpke, Jayson Sweeney, Brett Jenkins, Christopher Albright, and Terissa Jenkins-Albright; and twelve great-grandchildren.
He is also preceded in death by both his parents; and one sister, Marjorie Dirks.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 from 5-7pm, at Baier Funeral Home in Watseka, IL, until the 7:00 pm Funeral Service. Pastor Joseph Hughes will officiate.
Burial will be held at a later date.
Memorials in Mr. Sweeney’s name can be made to Family’s Wishes.
Cremation rites have been made accordingly.
George “Larry” Whitlow, 76, of Crescent City passed away on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at Watseka Rehab and Health Care Center. He was born December 17, 1942 in Franklin County, IL, the son of George D. and Ruth (Dawson) Whitlow and they preceded him in death. Larry married Phyllis Larson on February 9, 1963 and she preceded him in death on December 29, 1982. He later married Donna Wall Paap on April 7, 1984 in Crescent City and she survives.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, David (Mistie) Whitlow of Herscher and Rod Paap of South Padre Island, TX; one daughter, Pamela (Gary) Hibbert of Clifton; three grandchildren, Kyle and Hunter Whitlow and Ellaine Hibbert; and two sisters, Sue (Jim) Seabert of Reeds Spring, MO, and Kathy (Mike) Morris of Clifton.
Mr. Whitlow worked as a lineman for ComEd for over 27 years and was a 50-year member of the Watseka Masonic Lodge. He enjoyed boating, NASCAR, and loved cars.
A private funeral service was held at the Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka. Visitation will be held from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 15, also at the Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka.
Memorials may be made to Shriners Hospital of Chicago or St. Peter Lutheran Church in Crescent City.
Please share a memory of Larry at www.knappfuneralhomes.com
Elaine Longest, 83, of Watseka and formerly of Milford went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, while surrounded by her family at Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka. She was born August 16, 1935 in Milford, the daughter of Clare and Carol (Beaver) Osgood and they preceded her in death. She married Carl Longest in Prairie Green Twp., on January 19, 1952 and he preceded her in death on August 11, 1991. In addition, she was preceded in death by one brother, Edward Osgood and one great grandson, Kyler Tull.
Elaine is survived by six sons, Sam (Jackie) Longest of Denver, CO, Doug (Deb) Longest of Watseka, Randy (Teri) Longest of O’Fallon, MO, Pat (Tammy) Longest of Hoopeston, Michael Longest of Hoopeston, and John (Jill) Longest of Spirit Lake, IA; one brother, John (Marsha) Osgood of Clarksville, TN; fifteen grandchildren, Matt (Becky) Longest of Milford, Dustin (Lauren) Longest of Stamford, CT, Deena (Adam) Knapp of Watseka, Jay (Tiffany) Longest of Dover, TN, Jordan (Tiffany) Longest of Marysville, OH, Nichole (Tom) Tull, April (Chuck) Powell, Natasha Longest, Lacey Longest, Todd (Brook) Longest, Shane Longest, all of Hoopeston, Justin Longest of Orlando, FL, Jeremy Clingenpeel of Danville, Jacob Longest and Jessica Longest, both of Spirit Lake, IA; twenty three great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Elaine worked at Howard Industries for many years and Quality Grocery Store until her retirement in 2000. Mrs. Longest was a member of the Milford Christian Church. She always enjoyed doing word searches. Elaine spent the last few years at Heritage Woods in Watseka where she loved to play BINGO, was on a Wii bowling team, and regularly played the game Aggravation with her friends. She enjoyed spending as much time as she could with her children, grandchildren and many friends she had over the years.
Visitation will be held from 9:00 am until 11:00 am on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at Milford Christian Church. An 11:00 am funeral service will immediately follow at church. Rev. Brent Zastrow and Rev. Neil Larimore will officiate. Burial will take place at Maple Grove Cemetery in Milford.
Arrangements by Knapp Funeral Home in Milford.
Betty Lou White, 94, of Piper City passed away Wednesday, May 15, 2019 in Danforth. She was born July 2, 1924 in Anchor, the daughter of Chris and Louise (Stuhmer) Walters and they preceded her in death. Betty married Duane W. White in Piper City on September 23, 1945 and he preceded her in death on February 13, 1990. She was also preceded in death by two sisters, Maxine Opperman and Geraldine Wilson; one son-in-law, Roger Grubbs, and one infant daughter.
Mrs. White is survived by one daughter, Melissa Grubbs of Kempton; three grandchildren, Brandon (Stacy) Grubbs of Cullom, Amber (Matt) Trowitch of Bloomington, and Alison (Scott) Buckley of Reddick; seven great grandchildren, Charlotte & Grace Grubbs, Landon, Caden, & Grayson Trowitch, and Austin & Addyson Buckley.
Betty attended Burger County School, graduated from Piper City High School in 1942 and graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science Degree. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority and First Presbyterian Church in Piper City, where she served as Elder, and was the Treasurer of the Women’s Association. She was a Sunday School Teacher for 16 years and a member of the church choir for 68 years. She and her husband owned and operated Piper City Hardware & Variety Store in Piper City for 30 years. Betty enjoyed auctions, refinishing antiques, gospel music, crafts, decorating for holidays, and knitting. Most of all she enjoyed spending time with her family who were very dear to her.
Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. until the 11:00 a.m. funeral service on Monday, May 20, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church in Piper City. Pastor Brian King will officiate. Burial will follow the service at Brenton Twp. Cemetery in Piper City.
Arrangements by Knapp-Redenius Funeral Home in Gilman.
Dolly R. Fatka, 87, of Gilman passed away Thursday, May 16, 2019 at Presence St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee. She was born on October 31, 1931 in Clifton, the daughter of Harry W. and Florence (Zillman) Burling and they preceded her in death. She married Laverne W. Fatka on April 15, 1950 in Clifton and he preceded her in death on July 23, 2016. In addition to her parents and husband, she is preceded in death by her two daughters, Ruth and Cathy; and four brothers.
Mrs. Fatka is survived by three sons, James, John, and Paul; twelve grandchildren; one sister, Edna; and many great grandchildren.
Dolly was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Gilman, Paradise Neighbors Club, and W.E.L.C.A.
Visitation will be from 10:00 a.m. until the 12:00 p.m. funeral service on Monday, May 20, 2019 at Knapp-Redenius Funeral Home in Gilman. Rev. Joel Brown will officiate. Burial will follow at Brenton Twp. Cemetery in Piper City.
Memorials may be made to Gilman Food Bank, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Gilman, or Prairieview Lutheran Home in Danforth.
Carol A. Trombley, 68, of Crescent City passed away on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka. Carol was born August 22, 1950 in Watseka, the daughter of Thomas and Opal (Parks) Ponton and they preceded her in death.
Mrs. Trombley is survived by two sons, Christopher (Laurie) Trombley of Bradley and Daniel Trombley of WI; two sisters, Betty Waters of Danville and Lynne (Gary) Bulman of AZ; two brothers, Rick (Kathy) Ponton of Watseka and Thomas (Dinees) Ponton of VA; three grandchildren; and three great grandchildren.
Carol was the owner and operator of The Porky Barn in Watseka for over twenty-five years.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Monday, May 20, 2019 at Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka. Funeral service will be at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 also at the Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka. Joe Hughes will officiate. Burial will follow at St. John The Baptist Catholic Cemetery in L’Erable.
Memorials may be made to American Cancer Society.
Dennis L. McTaggart, 65, of Champaign, formerly of Watseka, passed away on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 in Watseka. He was born September 28, 1953 in Watseka, the son of Lawrence J. and Helen M. (Corbett) McTaggart Sr. and they preceded him in death, as well one brother, Charles. Dennis married Carol Williams in Watseka on December 27, 1981; she survives and resides in Chicago.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Charles and Todd McTaggart, both of Champaign; one daughter, Clair (Patrick) O’Toole of Chicago; seven brothers, William McTaggart of Watseka, James (Connie) McTaggart of Charlotte, NC, Larry (Mary) McTaggart of Onarga, Paul (Linda) McTaggart of Watseka, Terry (Gwen) McTaggart of Watseka, Patrick McTaggart of Watseka, and Richard (Cathy) McTaggart of Watseka; and seven sisters, Virginia Carr of Los Gatos, CA, Jane McTaggart of Watseka, Mary (Mike) Walsh of Lincoln, NE, Teresa (John) Braden of Watseka, Margaret (Randy) Feller of Oakwood, Diana (John) McShane of Lincoln, and Carol (Tom) Rechtiene of St. Louis, MO.
Dennis was a 1972 graduate of Watseka Community High School and went on to attend Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Dennis was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Urbana. He was a farmer for the majority of his life, as well as the owner and manager of Farmers Agriculture Service in Gifford and Royal since 1983. Dennis had compassion, drive, and love for the business of agriculture.
Visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, May 10 at Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka with a prayer service being held at 3:45 p.m. Funeral mass will be held Saturday, May 11 at 9:00 a.m., at St. Edmund’s Catholic Church in Watseka. Fr. Michael Powell will officiate. Burial will follow the service at Oak Hill Cemetery in Watseka.
William “Bill” Vernon Harrison, 72, of Pontiac and formerly of Gilman passed away Tuesday, May 7, 2019, surrounded by his family, at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington.
Visitation will be from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday, May 10, 2019 at the Knapp-Redenius Funeral Home in Gilman and 1 hour prior to the service at the church. Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Gilman. Rev. Pete Hinrich will officiate. Burial will follow at the Gilman Cemetery.
Bill was the older child of the late Wendell Vernon “Sweede” and Geraldine (McNabb) Harrison, and the older brother of the late Ronald Harrison. He was born on January 29, 1947, in Watseka and married his high school sweetheart, Jean Manssen, on September 3, 1966 in Danforth. They celebrated fifty-two years of marriage last September. In addition to his wife, Bill is survived by two children, Wade (Melinda) Harrison of Homewood, Alabama and Wendy (Steve) Haase of Lexington, Illinois. He was known as “Grandpa” to five grandchildren, whom he loved beyond measure: Wyatt and Graham Harrison, and Clayton, Reagan, and Braden Haase. He is also survived by his brother-in-law and sisters-in-law, Keith (Jackie) Manssen, Myra Manssen and Linda Scering; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
All who knew Bill knew him as a gifted teacher and a beloved coach and sports enthusiast. After earning both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Illinois State University, Bill taught Math at Gilman High School and Iroquois West High School, retiring in 2003 after a 33-year career of teaching and administration. Bill grew the mathematics program to include advanced mathematics and math contests in order to prepare Gilman-area high school students for college and career. Always one to enjoy working with students in the classroom, Bill also taught math part-time over the years at Kankakee Community College, retiring in 2009. After retirement, his teaching did not cease, as he soon had grandchildren to encourage in their academic pursuits. He was often notified promptly by his grandchildren of accomplishments in the classroom and on Math Team, and more than once was summoned for help with difficult mathematics concepts by his grandchildren as well as nieces and nephews. Bill might have retired from teaching, but he never ceased being a teacher.
In addition to being a master teacher, Bill was also a model coach. During his long teaching career, he coached every sport that involved a ball, including his son’s baseball teams and his daughter’s volleyball teams. Retirement for Bill brought the opportunity to attend as many of his grandchildren’s athletic events as possible, and he never missed an opportunity to constructively critique and lovingly encourage the kids after a game, match, or meet.
Bill was an avid reader, often in the middle of multiple books all at once. He enjoyed gardening, bowling, golf, and watching the White Sox, a team loyalty passed down from his dad. He was an active member for many years in the Gilman Rotary and was of the Lutheran faith.
In addition to being sorely missed by his family, Bill’s passing will surely be sadly felt by the many extended family members, students, athletes, and others whose lives were influenced by his generosity and warm guidance. Memorials in Bill’s memory may be made to a scholarship for potential math teachers attending Kankakee Community College or to a cause of the donor’s choosing.
Bonnie Franklin, 62, of Milford, Il, passed away on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.
She was born on May 7, 1957 in Watseka, the daughter of Richard Leppard and Doris (Leonard) Leppard.
Bonnie married Wendell Franklin in Milford, IL on July 22, 1977. He survives by her.
Bonnie worked cleaning houses. She enjoyed watching grandchildren, spending time with friends and family, sports, and Elvis.
Also surviving Ms. Franklin is her daughters, Danyel Milk of Milford, Erica Franklin of Annawan, IL; son, John-Richard Franklin of Milford; sisters, Lyla Foster (Mike) of Nobelsville, IN, Melody Miller of Kankakee, IL; grandchildren, Brittyn Franklin, Tristan Milk, Xander Bremer, Daisy Gomez, and Tucker Milk; and a few nieces and nephews.
She is also preceded in death by her parents; and one brother, Michael.
Visitation will be held on Friday, May 10, 2019 from 4-8pm, at Baier Funeral Home in Watseka.
Funeral Services will take place on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 11:00 am, at Baier Funeral Home in Watseka. Another hour visitation will be held prior to services. Pastor Brent Zastrow will officiate.
Burial will follow at Iroquois Memorial Park in Watseka, IL.
James Elmer “Pinky” Schunke, 91, of Gilman, passed away on Friday, May 3, 2019 at Gilman Health Care Center. He was born December 26, 1927 in Gilman, the son of William and Viola (Carty) Schunke and they preceded him in death. James married Willie Bucksteeg in Watseka on April 3, 1957 and she preceded him in death on May 15, 1996. In addition to his parents and wife, he was preceded in death by his brother and sister-in-law, William Rusty Schunke and Myrtle Schunke, and his sister Evelyn “Peg” Mueller.
He is survived by one daughter, Jaye Lynn and husband Eric Gravitt of Normal; two sons, Dale Schunke of Gilman and James Lee Schunke of McKinney, TX; seven grandchildren, Danny, Nicole, Kyle James, Matt, Josh, Christopher, and Andy; and three great grandchildren, Caitlin, Emma, and Alexa.
Mr. Schunke served in the U.S. Army. Pinky later worked for IDOT for a short period of time and went on to work at Swift, where he retired after many years. Mr. Schunke was an avid fisherman, enjoyed the outdoors, hunting, and golfing.
Cremation rites will be accorded by the Knapp-Redenius Funeral Home in Gilman and a private graveside service will be held at a later date at Gilman Cemetery.
Melinda Rae Miller, 37, of Watseka passed away on Saturday, May 4, 2019. She was born on December 2, 1981 in Kankakee, the daughter of Rick and Kathy (Lowery) Ponton.
Surviving are her parents, Rick and Kathy Ponton of Watseka; three daughters, Caitlyn Lease, Brianna Osenga, and Emily Miller, all of Watseka; two sisters, Kari Robbins of Savannah, GA and Stephanie (Michael) Blackwell of Watseka; one nephew, Wyatt Blackwell of Watseka; her maternal grandmother, Sherley Lowery of Fairfield, IL; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her maternal grandfather, William Lowery; paternal grandparents, Thomas and Opal Ponton; paternal step-grandfather, Ernie Floriant; and brother in law, Paul Robbins.
She enjoyed watching NASCAR, listening to music, and spending time with her family.
Funeral services will be on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at 10:30 am at Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka. Joe Hughes will officiate. Burial will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery in Watseka.
Visitation will be from 4:00-7:00 pm on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Family’s Wishes.
Please share a memory of Melinda at knappfuneralhomes.com.
Bernice M. Zabel, 94, of Watseka passed away on Monday, April 29, 2019 at Faith Place in Danforth.
Bernice was born February 26, 1925 in Buckley, the daughter of Fred and Freida (Koester) Tiarks. She married Everett W. Zabel on November 30, 1946 at Ash Grove and he preceded her in death on July 19, 2006. She was also preceded in death by her parents; two sons, Dennis and Rick; three brothers; and three sisters.
She is survived by one daughter, Beverly Chase of St. Anne; three sons, Thomas (Shirley) Zabel of Watseka, Stephen (Jana) Zabel of Donovan, and Robert Zabel of Donovan; nine grandchildren; twenty-six great grandchildren; and six great-great grandchildren; one sister, Arvella McManis of Watseka; and one sister-in-law, Martha St. Peter of Watseka.
Mrs. Zabel was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church in Watseka.
Visitation will be from 9:00 a.m. until the 11:00 a.m. funeral service on Friday, May 3, 2019 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Watseka. Rev. G. Robert Heimgartner will officiate. Burial will follow at Prairie Dell Cemetery in Iroquois.
Memorials may be made to Faith Place in Danforth.
Douglas Guynn, 50, of Gilman, Il, passed away on Monday, April 29, 2019.
He was born on November 21, 1968 in Watseka, IL, the son of Carol Guynn.
Mr. Guynn was a Laborer Mixer for High Concrete. He enjoyed spending time with family, golfing, fishing, bowling, wrestling, sports, especially the Bears.
Surviving Mr. Guynn is his mother; Carol Turner of Gilman; daughter, Olivia (Jimmy Carl) Guynn of Cissna Park; step-son, Kody Egolf of Cissna Park; sister, Paula (Kevin) Gray of Gilman; four grandchildren, Evan, Braylee, Easton, and Case; and three nieces and nephews.
He is also preceded in death by one brother, Brad Guynn.
Visitation will be held Saturday, May 4, 2019 from 10am – 12pm, at Baier Funeral Home in Watseka, IL.
Funeral Services Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 12:00 pm, at Baier Funeral Home in Watseka, IL. Pastor Joseph Hughes will officiate.
Burial will follow at Sugar Creek Cemetery in Stockland, IL.
Ray W. “Peanut” Focken, 89, of Watseka passed away on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at his home in Watseka. He was born on January 20, 1930 in Onarga, the son of William and Alva (Crain) Focken and they preceded him in death. He married Gloria Crouch in Crescent City on May 7, 1954 and she survives.
In addition to his wife, Gloria Focken of Watseka, Ray is survived by one son, Tim (Janet) Focken of Watseka; one daughter, Teena (Jeff) Crosswell of Watseka; five grandchildren, Travis Harwood, Daniel Focken, Alex (Taylor) Crosswell, Zach Crosswell, and Emily Crosswell; two brothers, Charles (Louise) Focken of Little Rock, AR and Fred Focken of Watseka; and one great grandchild on the way.
Mr. Focken was a 1948 graduate of Watseka High School. He worked at UARCO for 35 years, becoming a Supervisor in the Comp. Department. He was an avid Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears fan. Peanut loved spending time with his grandchildren.
Funeral services will be at 10:30 am on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at Faith Lutheran Church in Watseka. Rev. Alex McNally will officiate. Burial will follow in Iroquois Memorial Park in Watseka. Graveside military rites will be provided by Watseka American Legion Post #23 and Iroquois County VFW Post #7450.
Visitation will be from 4:00-7:00 pm on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at Faith Lutheran Church in Watseka as well as one hour prior to the services on Thursday at church.
The Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka is in charge of arrangements.
Memorials may be made to Iroquois Memorial Hospice or to the donor’s choice.
Please share a memory of Ray at knappfuneralhomes.com.
Donald J. Kemarly, 80, of Onarga passed away on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at his home. He was born December 28, 1938 in Montpelier, OH, the son of Harry and Beatrice (Gregg) Kemarly and they preceded him in death.
He married Pat Geisler on February 5, 1963 in Petersburg, VA and she survives. Also surviving are one daughter, Shirley (Dale) Melton of Normal; two sons, Steven (Angel) Kemarly of Gilman and Kevin (Tyler) Kemarly of San Antonio, TX; and two grandchildren, Ashley Motes and Megan Kemarly.
Mr. Kemarly served during the Vietnam War; serving in the U.S. Army for 7 years and in the U.S. Navy for 23 years. He worked at Louis Melind for 21 years.
Cremation rites will be accorded by the Knapp-Redenius Funeral Home in Gilman. Private graveside services will be held on Friday, May 3, 2019 at the Onarga Cemetery with military graveside rites by the Onarga American Legion Post #551. Rev. Elizabeth Reis will officiate.
Memorials may be made to the Donald Kemarly Memorial Fund.
Lois R. Schroeder, 93, of Watseka passed away on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at Riverside Senior Living in Kankakee. She was born on July 19, 1925 in Watseka, the daughter of Albert and Martha (Rock) Schroeder. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by one special cousin, Ethel Lamie.
Surviving is one cousin, Marilyn Blew of Palos Hills, IL; special family caregivers, Judy (Chuck) Price of Chebanse and Tom (Donna) Lamie of Kankakee; additional cousins, Bill (Tonya) Lamie of Tennessee and Patty Lamie of Kankakee; and several other cousins.
Lois was a member of Immanuel’s United Church of Christ in Papineau where she at one time served as Treasurer of the Women’s Guild. She enjoyed traveling on the First Trust Bank Trips, especially visiting Branson, MO. Mrs. Schroeder loved going to musicals, attending stage shows, and was an avid Chicago Cubs fan.
Funeral services will be at 11:00 am on Friday, April 26, 2019 at Immanuel’s United Church of Christ in Papineau. Rev. Craig Forwalter will officiate. Burial will follow in Papineau Cemetery. Visitation will be one hour before the funeral services at the church.
Memorials may be made to Hospice of Kankakee Valley.
Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka is assisting the family with arrangements.
Please share a memory of Lois at knappfuneralhomes.com.
Ruth Lillian Kope, 96, of Gilman and formerly of Joliet and Stockton, KS passed away on April 18, 2019 at Gilman Health Care.
Ruth was born May 2, 1922 in Fort Defiance, Arizona, the daughter of Walter and Pauline (Melito) Blatchford and they preceded her in death along with eight brothers and sisters. She married William Kope in Farmington, New Mexico and he preceded her in death in July of 1983.
She is survived by two daughters, Charlotte (Barry) Cornell of Peotone and Rojean (John) Gager of Junction City, KS; one son, Ken Kope of Chicago; four grandchildren, Zain Razvi of New Lenox, Rehana (Mark) Renaud of Mokena, Cody Molloy of Junction City, KS, and Alaina Molloy of Junction City, KS; two great-grandchildren; and one brother, Benjamin Blatchford.
Mrs. Kope was a florist, having owned Kreations by Kope in Stockton, KS. She loved painting, drawing, and was liked by everyone. Ruth was an active member of Stockton United Methodist Church in Stockton, KS.
Cremation rites have been accorded by Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka. Burial will take place at a later date at White County Memorial Garden Cemetery near Carmi, IL.
Memorials in Ruth’s name may be made to Alzheimer’s Association.
erry W. Huckleby, 70, of Milford passed away on Monday, April 29, 2019 in Hoopeston. He was born on August 25, 1948 in Burkesville, KY, the son of Robert E. and Mary M. (Dean) Huckleby. He married Violetta Cooley in Rossville on August 25, 1967 and she survives.
Also surviving are two sons, Aaron Huckleby of Milford and Anson (Aimee) Huckleby of Wellington, FL; five grandchildren, Morgan Huckleby, Drezden Huckleby, Kayla Huckleby, Logan Huckleby, and Parker Huckleby; one great grandchild, Clarity Cotton; three sisters, Dorothy Allison of Hoopeston, Margaret (Terry) Clark of Milford, and Sheila (George) Fix of Florida; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; six brothers, Marshall Huckleby, Jimmy Huckleby, Donald Huckleby, Robert Huckleby, Bobby Huckleby, and Hallond Huckleby; and two sisters, Dolly Flynn and Shirley Allison.
Terry was a very athletic and competitive person and he especially enjoyed golfing. He loved all sports and was an avid Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts fan.
Graveside services will be held at 11:15 am on Monday, May 13, 2019 at Sugar Creek Cemetery in Stockland. Rev. Brent Zastrow will officiate. Graveside military rites will take place.
Knapp Funeral Home in Milford is in charge of arrangements.
Lloyd Anderson Sr., 79, of Danforth, passed away Friday, April 19, 2019. Lloyd was born October 12, 1939 in Watseka, the son of Carl and Bernadine (Tascher) Anderson. He married the love of his life, Nancy (Wilhoyt) Morrissette on January 6, 1968 in Gilman and she survives.
Besides his wife, Nancy Anderson of Danforth, he is survived by four children, Lloyd Jr. “Andy” (Virginia) Anderson of Danforth, Ryan (Danielle) Anderson of Danforth, William “Bill” Morrissette of Danforth, and Kimberly (Ron) Miller of Kankakee; ten grandchildren, Christopher, Nicholas, Matthew, Michael, Parker, Bennett, Cooper, Lily, Marley, and Kase; and one sister, Sylvia Hanson of Gilman.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one sister, Angela Bea Sharp; and his beloved son, Christopher.
After graduating Gilman High School in 1957 he joined the United States Army. When he returned home from the service he was employed by General Foods for several years, before returning home to take over the family farm. He also worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation for ten years. Lloyd’s passion was to promote soybean use around the world which led him to travel to China, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Turkey, and Alaska to teach about soybeans. He served on many boards and committees including, The President of the Illinois Soybean Association and The Chairman of the Illinois Soybean Operating Board. In the early 90’s Lloyd was appointed to the Illinois Agriculture Mining Council by Governor Jim Edger. In 1992 Lloyd was appointed to the National Agriculture and Extension Users Advisory Board by President George Bush.
He was a board member of the Danforth-Gilman Grain Elevator for many years. He was very involved with the Ford Iroquois Farm Bureau. He was a third generation Free Mason out of the Piper City Lodge serving as Worshipful Master several times. He was also 32-degree Scottish Rite Mason. He was a member of the Oddfellow’s, a member of the Slow Boys Tractor Club and the Illinois Corn Growers Association. Lloyd was a lifelong Republican, he served many years as a precinct committeeman, then achieving his goal of becoming the Iroquois County Republican Chairman. He was a member of the Gilman United Methodist Church. With all Lloyd’s accomplishments in his life, he was most proud of the family he built.
Lloyd was a devoted father and coached many of the local sports teams. He enjoyed boating and spending winters in Florida. In his younger years he enjoyed being in a bowling league. But what he loved most was being on the farm and spending his time with his kids and many grandchildren. Even after a stroke and numerous injuries he never stopped working hard on the farm. He never met a stranger, always had a friendly smile on his face, and had a laugh that would light up the room.
Visitation will be from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at Knapp-Redenius Funeral Home in Gilman.
Funeral services will be at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at Gilman United Methodist Church. Rev. Malcolm Jones will officiate. Private burial will be held at a later date at Danforth Cemetery with graveside military rites by Danforth, Gilman, and Onarga American Legions.
Michelle A. Redenius, 57, of Ashkum passed away on Sunday, April 21, 2019.
Michelle was born April 29, 1961 in Watseka, the daughter of George and Ruth (Harms) Mikeworth and they preceded her in death along with one brother, Mark. She married Dean Redenius on November 10, 1979 in Ashkum and he survives of Ashkum.
Other survivors include one son, Jeffery (Kimberly) Redenius of Ashkum; three daughters, Julie (Joe) Kolosky of Clifton, Kelly (Jessie) Barnhill of Ellsworth, and Heidi (Brice) Breymeyer of Onarga; one sister, Marcia (Rodney) Papineau of Clifton; one brother, Michael (Ellen) Mikeworth of Ashkum; seven grandchildren and one more on the way, Alyssa, Klayton, and Kohlton Kolosky, Emma Barnhill, Braxton Breymeyer, and Derek and Trace Redenius; and one sister-in-law, Delphine (Dean) Engelbrecht of Bloomington.
Michelle was a loving wife and mother who loved the farm life, cats, and Christmas. Her grandchildren were what she lived for most in life.
Visitation will be from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at Knapp Funeral Home in Clifton.
Private funeral services will be held with Rev. Joel Brown officiating and private burial will take place at Ashkum Cemetery.
Kendra L. Haskins, 49, of Watseka passed away on Monday, April 15, 2019 at Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee. She was born November 11, 1969 in Pensacola, FL, the daughter of Kenneth and Patricia (Brown) Thiele.
She is survived by one daughter, Autumn Haskins of Watseka; her parents, Kenneth and Patricia Thiele of Watseka; one sister, Julie (Tim) Moore of Kentland, IN; two nephews, Eric Moore of Martinton and Matthew Moore of Kentland, IN; and several aunts, uncles and special cousins.
Kendra was preceded in death by one brother, Bryan Thiele; her maternal grandparents; and her paternal grandparents.
Ms. Haskins was of Catholic faith and attended St. Edmund Catholic Church in Watseka. She suffered from Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy. Kendra was a former cashier at AutoZone. She loved flea markets, craft shows, reading, buying jewelry on QVC, and going on trips especially to amusement parks, where she loved riding roller coasters.
Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 20, 2019 at the Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka. Fr. Michael Powell will officiate. Burial will follow at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Martinton.
Visitation will be from 4:00-8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 19, 2019 at the Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka with a prayer service being held at 3:30 p.m.
Memorials may be made to Autumn’s Education Fund.
Norman D. Knapp, 77, of Watseka passed away on Sunday, April 14, 2019 at his residence in Watseka. He was born on October 14, 1941, the son of Clarence and Naomi (Young) Knapp. He married Elinor Elledge in Watseka on October 14, 2015 and she survives.
In addition to his wife, Elinor Knapp of Watseka, he is also survived by one daughter, Diane Lamb of Tucson, AZ; one son, Randy Knapp of Tucson, AZ; three grandchildren, Amanda Pratt, Jessica Darby, and Nicole Thomas; five great grandchildren, Hailey, Khloe, Ryan, Kolton, and Emma; two brothers, Wes (Judy) Knapp of Cissna Park and Aaron (Charlene) Knapp of Rankin; two sisters, Lucille Knapp of Hoopeston and Marilyn Knapp of Danville; one step son, Robert Reed of Chicago; and one step daughter, Tammy Brown of Downers Grove.
In addition to his parents, Norman was preceded in death by three sisters, Marguerite Beckman, Sylvia Knapp, and Arlene Knapp.
Mr. Knapp loved fishing and camping. He enjoyed driving around on his moped when he was younger.
Funeral services will be at 10:00 am on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at the Apostolic Christian Church in Cissna Park. Ministers of the Church will officiate. Burial will follow in the Apostolic Christian Cemetery in Cissna Park.
Visitation will be one hour prior the service on Wednesday, from 9:00-10:00 am at the church.
Knapp Funeral Home in Cissna Park is in charge of the funeral arrangements.
Memorial may be made to the American Lung Association or donor’s choice.
Please share a memory of Norman at knappfuneralhomes.com.
Mary Lou Holt, 89, of Watseka passed away on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at the Sheldon Health Care Center. She was born May 24, 1929 in Chrisman, the daughter of Harry and Nellie Jeffers. She married Charles B. Hopkins and he preceded her in death in 2003. She was also preceded in death by her parents and three brothers, Bernard D. Jeffers, Francis “Rabbit” Jeffers and Donald L. Jeffers.
She is survived by two sons, Jeff Hopkins and Charles M. Hopkins both of Watseka; two grandchildren, Charles A. Hopkins of Watseka and Alcy Mae (Andy) Anderson-Poulas of Watseka; and one great-grandchild, Lucian Jeffrey Poulas of Watseka.
Mary Lou was a member of Trinity Church in Watseka.
Cremation rites will be accorded by the Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka and burial will be held at a later date at Floral Hill Cemetery in Hoopeston.
Please share a memory of Mary Lou at knappfuneralhomes.com
Ronald L. Leiding, 75, of Watseka passed away on Thursday, March 28, 2019 at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. He was born on August 23, 1943 in Watseka, the son of Edwin and Agnes (Pasel) Leiding and they preceded him in death.
Ronald is survived by one son, Deihl Leiding of Watseka and several cousins and close friends.
Ronald was a lifelong farmer in the Crescent City area. He was a member of the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Crescent City. Mr. Leiding was a past member of the Illinois Tractor Pullers Association. He was the recipient of the Antique Puller of the Year Award and was the co-founder of J & L Puller Tires.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Monday, April 1, 2019 at the Knapp Funeral Home in Watseka, as well as one hour prior to the funeral service. Funeral service will be held Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 11:00 a.m., also at the Knapp Funeral Home. Rev. Joel Brown will officiate. Burial will follow the service at St. Peter’s Lutheran Cemetery in Crescent City.
Memorials may be made to Crescent-Iroquois Fire Department or Donor’s Choice