LODA — Eugene W. Merkle, of Loda and formerly of Danforth, was born in Kankakee on July 19, 1929, the son of William C. Merkle and Emma E. Siemons Merkle. He passed away Friday (Feb. 19, 2021).
He attended the Merkle One Room Country School through March of his fifth-grade year. Then he attended the Kern One Room Country School through eighth grade. Both schools were in Danforth Township.
He graduated from Gilman High School in 1947, then worked one year before attending college. Several people had told him if he waited to go to college he would never get there, but his determination prevailed. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1952, earning a degree in agriculture economics with an emphasis in farm management.
On Jan. 27, 1951, he married the love of his life, Patricia M. Fordyce, at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Gilman. They had just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in January of this year. She survives.
Eugene “Gene” and Patricia lived and raised their family in Danforth, until moving to Bayles Lake in Loda, in 1997.
In 1952, they welcomed their first-born, and Gene graduated from the University of Illinois.
Gene and Pat had 10 children, including seven sons and three daughters, and life was full of adventure, hard work, determination, discipline, love and respect.
His wife and eight of those 10 children survive him, David, of Bourbonnais, Kevin, of Champaign, Stuart (deceased), Gayle Merkle-Matt, of Champaign, Ross (deceased), Lisa (Jim) Redenius, of Gilman, John (Mindy), of Lombard, Mary (Bo) Merkle-Bargmann, of Champaign, James (Julie), of Tinley Park, Robert (Kirsten), of Bloomington; 19 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.
Gene’s early career involved working for a firm providing soil testing and farm management services.
In 1960, with seven children and the eighth on the way, he started his own farm management service, insurance agency and real estate firm located in Gilman. He continued to serve his clients for more than 60 years until his retirement in 2013.
He was a member of the The American Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. He was also a member of Illinois Association of Realtors, Illinois Independent Agents, The Rotary International, and was a Paul Harris Fellow.
Gene was a member of Immaculate Conception Church of Gilman and served on the building committee and parish council and was a 3rd Degree Knights of Columbus. He was on the board of directors of the Bayles Lake Association for several years.
He truly enjoyed woodworking, caring for his lawn and gardening. He also enjoyed stained glass and ceramics hobbies. Gene was loyal and faithful to each and every member of his family, and would do anything for them. He was great to go to for helpful advice. He had an endless and tireless drive to get things done.
His peaceful passing at home leaves a huge void within his family.
Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, at Knapp-Redenius Funeral Home, Gilman. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Gilman, with the Rev. Marek Herbut officiating. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Gilman.
Memorials may be made to Iroquois Memorial Hospice or the charity of the donor’s choice.
Funeral arrangements are by Knapp-Redenius Funeral Home in Gilman.
Please sign his online guestbook at knappfuneralhomes.com.