News and Observations from Wapella, Illinois: Home of the Wildcats.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012 Mourns the Passing of Bill Leggett

Dale W. “Bill” Leggett, 86, Clinton, died at 8:05 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 22, 2012) at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Bloomington.

His service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Maroa Christian Church, Maroa. J. Kent Hickerson and Jeff Brunsman will officiate. Interment will be at Mausoleum Park Cemetery, Clinton, with military honors. Visitation will be from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday at the Maroa Christian Church, Maroa. The family has entrusted Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, with arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Maroa Christian Church.

 He was born on Oct. 29, 1925, in Wapella, son of Glenn Leggett and Fern Shannon Leggett. He married Cleo Ruth Perry on Oct. 18, 1947, at Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa.

Survivors include his wife, Cleo R. Leggett, Clinton; his children, Trudy Fern (Larry) Hinkle, Danville; Verneil Dale (Lori) Leggett, Maroa; Darren Kent (Belinda) Leggett, Clinton; eight grandchildren and brother, Norman Eugene (Ruth) Leggett, Plainfield. He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother. He was a member of the Maroa Christian Church for 53 years.

He was in the U.S. Army. He was a member of the American Legion 103, Clinton, DeWitt County Farm Bureau and the Weldon Springs Foundation. He farmed for 46 years.  He was a fine neighbor, friend and cousin to many people in the Village of Wapella.

All flags 1/2 Mast please for US Army Veteran, Bill Leggett.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 Mourns the Passing of John Holland

John W. Holland, 79, of Clinton died at 7:30 a.m. Saturday (Sept. 22, 2012) at his family residence in Clinton.

His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, with military honors. J. Kent Hickerson will officiate. There will be no visitation. Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, is in charge of the arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Carle Hospice or the American Cancer Society. 

He was born Oct. 24, 1932, in Wapella, the son of Paul P. and Martha Jane Collins Holland. He married Mary M. Morris on April 26, 1977, in Clinton. She survives in Clinton. Also surviving are his children, David Holland, Wapella; Elizabeth (Rick) Lord, Clinton; and Cheryl (Larry) Rich, Weldon; stepchildren, Patty (Dennis) Rich, McLean; Ricky Ritter, Wapella; Rusty Ritter, Clinton; and Roger (Charlotte) Ritter, Clinton; siblings, Ronald (Joyce) Holland, Maroa; Betty (Bill) Ellis, Clinton; Kathy (Vernon) Meadows, Wapella; Bev (Charlie) Kraft, Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Ralph Holland, Heyworth; 15 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother and one grandson. 

He served in the U.S. Army. He owned and operated Holland Brothers Plumbing, Wapella, for many years. He had his pilot license and enjoyed flying. He also enjoyed fishing and mushroom hunting. John Holland was a great businessman, neighbor and friend.  He will be sadly missed by the Village of Wapella.

All flags 1/2 mast please for US Army Veteran, John Holland.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012 Mourns the Passing of Calvin Karr

Calvin B. Karr, 84, Clinton, died at 9:27 a.m. Saturday (June 16, 2012) at Memorial Medical Center, Springfield. His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at First Christian Church, Clinton. J. Kent Hickerson will officiate. Interment will be at Long Point Cemetery, Wapella, with Military Honors. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton. Memorials may be made to First Christian Church, Clinton.

He was born Dec. 8, 1927, in Wapella, son of Frank Karr and Dottie Rose Muirhead Karr. He married Donelda “Donnie” Haycraft on Oct. 20, 1951, in Wapella. He is survived by his wife, Donelda “Donnie” Karr, Clinton; daughters, Tami (Bob) Ballenger, Clinton; Darla (David) Nelson, Clinton; and Shelly (Brad) Kemp, Bloomington; eight grandchildren, Destini (Jeremy) Benesh, Oregon; Staci Ballenger, Clinton; Kortni Sisco, Tampa, Fla.; Darah Nelson, Chatham; Kyle Sisco, a Marine currently serving in Afghanistan; Chad Ballenger, Clinton; Sarah Kemp, Bloomington; and Katie Kemp, Bloomington; four great-grandchildren, Mackena Spurling, Jacob Hubble, Nelson and Carson Benesh; brother, Tom Karr, Concord, N.C.; and sister, Nola Karr, Clinton.

He was preceded in death by his parents, eight brothers, one sister and one son-in-law. He was a member of First Christian Church, Clinton.

He is an Army veteran and was stationed in Colorado. Calvin was the 11th of 12 children. He graduated from Wapella High School in 1945. He farmed for a number of years before becoming employed by Caterpillar where he retired after 30 years of service. He was a member of the Eagles Lodge and the American Legion.

Half mast flag for Calvin Carr, US Army.

Monday, July 9, 2012 Mourns the Passing of Dolores Burns

Dolores Marilyn Burns, 77, Bloomington, died at 1:30 a.m. Friday (July 6, 2012) at Heartland Healthcare, Normal. Her funeral will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Holy Trinity Church, Bloomington, with Monsignor Douglas Hennessy officiating. Burial will be in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Wapella. Visitation will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Holy Trinity Church or Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, 2211 N. Oak Park Ave. Chicago, IL 60707. Carmody-Flynn Williamsburg Funeral Home, Bloomington, is in charge of arrangements.

 Dolores was born on Dec. 13, 1934, in Barnett Township in DeWitt County, the daughter of Dennis and Mary Krueger Burns. Surviving are three sisters, Betty Maxwell, Heyworth; Patricia Powers, Wapella; and Helen (Bob) Haas, Clinton; a brother, William Burns, Bloomington; and three sisters-in-law, Mildred Burns and Alma Burns, both of Clinton; and Frances Burns, LeRoy; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by three brothers and two sisters.

Dolores was a longtime member of Holy Trinity Church and its choir. A special thanks is extended to Dolores’ sister and brother-in-law, Bob and Helen Haas, for their care and concern as well as to some special friends, Donna Nottoli, Pam Hawkins, Linda Dutton and Jack Limes. The family also wishes to express their appreciation to the staff of both OSF St. Joseph Medical Center and Heartland Healthcare. 

Dolores Burns is remembered as cheerful and pleasant neighbor, friend, and relative to many in the Wapella community.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 Mourns the Passing of Tom Lamkin

Thomas Michael Lamkin, 78, Clinton, IL, passed away at 11 PM Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at Advocate BroMenn Regional Medical Center, Normal, IL.  Funeral Services will be 11 AM Saturday, June 16, 2012 at the Presbyterian Church, Clinton, IL with the Revs. Samantha and Benjamin Keller and J. Kent Hickerson officiating.  Burial will be at Mausoleum Park Cemetery, Clinton, IL with Military Honors.  Visitation will be Friday evening from 4-7 PM at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, IL.  Memorials may be made to Angel Tree, Presbyterian Church Youth Group or  First Christian Church Food Bank.
Tom was born on Jan. 25, 1934 in Watson, IL, the son of Raymond and Myrtle (Sprinkle) Lamkin.  He married Nancy West on Sept. 19, 1975.
Tom is survived by his wife, Nancy Lamkin; 7 children: Dan (Rhonda) Matthews, Tracy (Chris) Ryan, Sarah (Jay) Peterson, Julie Lamkin, Tom (Diane) Lamkin, Jr., Kathleen (Don) Penn, and Maria Dolbeare; 1 sister: Rita Lockard, 12 grandchildren: Meghan, Connor, Joey, Dexter, Dustin, Alyssa, Drew, Colin, Austin, Colby, Andrew and Matthew and 6 great-grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by his parents and 1 brother: Raymond Lamkin.
Tom was a graduate of Effingham High School and University of Illinois Law School.  He was an attorney for 51 years.  He also was a former DeWitt County the States Attorney.
He served in the US Army during the Korean War.
Tom enjoyed golfing, fishing, hunting and gardening.   Mostly importantly, he loved his family and will deeply be missed.  Tom was a great friend and advocate for many in Wapella.  Our condolences to the Lamkin family.  All Flags 1/2 Mast for US Army Veteran Tom Lamkin.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 Mourns the passing of Wade Lowrey

Wade Allen Lowrey, 34, of Joplin, Mo., formerly of Clinton, will be remembered as a dear friend to all. Wade passed away on Tuesday (May 22, 2012) at his residence at Ozark Christian College. Wade was born Dec. 27, 1977, in Decatur, to Gary and Tanya Payne Lowrey. He is survived by his parents of Clinton; sister and brother in-law, Tricia and Brian Leslie, Plainfield, Ind.; sister and brother in-law, Jeana and Theo Barley, Miami, Okla.; two nephews, Zachary Leslie and Josiah Barley; five nieces, Emma Leslie, Halle Leslie, Norah Leslie, Justus Barley and Valor Barley; and many aunts, one uncle and cousins. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Jess and Norma Lowrey, and Richard and Genitia Payne; and his uncle, Gary Jenkins.

 Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at First Christian Church, Clinton, with the funeral at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the church as well. Kent J. Hickerson, minister at First Christian Church in Clinton, and Matt Proctor, president of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Mo., will be officiating the service. Burial will be in Memorial Park Cemetery, Clinton. Memorials may be made to Center Point Christian Church, Carthage, Mo., or Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Mo.

Wade had a passion for serving the people at both of these ministries. Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, is in charge of arrangements. Wade graduated in 1996 from Clinton High School. Following graduation, Wade attended Ozark Christian College and graduated in 2001 with a bachelor of theology/preaching and a bachelor of biblical literature in New Testament. He also later attended Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Mo. Wade was ordained into ministry at First Christian Church, Clinton, on Jan. 3, 1999.

 Throughout his college years, he served as a part-time minister at various congregations including Hepler Christian Church, Hepler, Kan., and Forest City Christian Church, St. James, Mo. Following graduation from OCC, Wade served at Lincolnway Christian Church, New Lenox, before moving back to the Joplin area. In July of 2009, Wade became the residence director of Strong Hall at OCC. In August of 2010, he started serving as associate minister at Center Point Christian Church, Carthage, Mo. Wade was excited about the work God is doing at Center Point, and he loved serving as a dorm director where he truly loved disciplining the young men of Strong Hall.

Wade was also an aspiring entrepreneur as he founded his own Internet business named National Site Brokers. Aside from his work responsibilities, Wade also served in the surrounding communities. He was on the board of directors of the House of Hope in Joplin as well as being a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Carthage. Wade loved people and wanted to reach as many people as possible for the Lord. Wade was always full of life, love and humor. He valued people and lived his life to serve others. Above all, he valued his relationship with the Lord and strived daily to be like Christ. Wade was the kind of person who always had a smile on his face and a hug to give. He was a fascinating blend of faith and fun, the likes of which few have ever achieved.

Wade daily brought laughter, joy and encouragement to others through his humorous and inspirational postings on Facebook. One of his last postings on Facebook before his death was the quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” — Dr. Seuss. Wade will be greatly missed by his family, friends and all whom his life touched.

Our condolences to the Lowrey and Payne families.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wapella Skyline

Lifted from Justin Williams.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Big News, Nothing Happened...New Low for the Pantagraph.

Dateline Wapella: the Pantagraph front page Headline blares "Thieves used fake check to steal $45K from DeWitt Co." begs the question, how thieves got away with this...the short answer...they didn't. DeWitt County did not lose any money, nor did Wapella on a similar scheme a week ago.

This is irresponsible journalism. The Pantagraph could write 10,000 headlines a day about thefts that did not occur. Any given bar in the Wapella area has 100 bank heists plotted a day that do not occur.

I look forward to reading about No Jewel Heist in Chenoa, No Counterfeiters in Hudson, No Chop Shops in El Paso as the weeks roll on in the Pantagraph's crime spree.

Saturday, March 10, 2012 Mourns the Passing of Joe Ruyle

Joseph Wardell Ruyle, 80, Kenney, died at 12:34 p.m. Wednesday (March 7, 2012) at Memorial Medical Center, Springfield.

His funeral will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton, with the Rev. C. Don Ferrill officiating. Burial will be at Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Kenney, with military honors. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to American Heart Association or Second Chance Adoption.

He was born Sept. 5, 1931, in Bellview, son of Joseph E. and Pauline F. Stearns Ruyle. He married Janet Ann Pfeffer Schanafelt on Oct. 21, 1983, in Heyworth.

He is survived by his wife, Janet Ann Ruyle, Kenney; children, Jeffrey W. Ruyle, Clinton, and Kimberly Jo (Brian) Vinson, Camdenton, Mo.; stepchildren, Denise (Rick) Johnson, Kenney; Bryan (Robyn) Schanafelt, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Sheila (Steve) Taylor, Weldon; 10 grandchildren, Jennifer (Wade) Benenhaley, Disputanta, Va.; Russell Berning, Camdenton, Mo.; Lindsay Johnson, Farley, Iowa; Lacy (Jesse) Carter, Hallsville; Lance Johnson, Decatur; Josh Taylor, U.S. Marine Corps; Ashley Taylor, Weldon; Olivia Schanafelt, Katherine Schanafelt and Samuel Schanafelt, all of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and three great-grandchildren, Taylor Harding, Logan Cole and Kamden Carter.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother and one sister.

He served in the U.S. Air Force.

He had worked for Illinois Central Railroad, retiring after 43 years of service. He loved gardening and flowers and his dogs. Joe was a well regarded member of the Wapella community, always a gentleman, a fine host and storyteller.

All flags 1/2 mast please for USAF Veteran Joe Ruyle.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Riddle Me this...What Type of Cufflinks Boost A Maroon?

I am assured Wildcats are Welcome! Come on down...and Boost a Maroon the Old Style Way. By bidding on some semi-official Old Style Cufflinks (or a Starlin Castro Autographed Ball), courtesy of the Chicago Cubs, and various other items that are sure to launch a Maroon winner.

To All Maroon Families and Friends:

The Clinton Athletic Booster Club is pleased to announce the 2nd Annual Maroon Madness Event to be held on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at the Clinton Elks Club in Clinton, Illinois. Tickets are now available. Only 200 tickets will be sold, so purchase your ticket today! By purchasing a $100 ticket, 4 guests will be admitted to the event

PLUS 1 entry into the raffle drawing, which includes several cash prizes…with a Grand Prize of $5,000.

Along with the Raffle, a Silent Auction will also be held that night. If you are interested in contributing an item or service to the Silent Auction, please contact Brian Ennis at or call Junior Monkman at 217-620-4100

All proceeds raised from the Maroon Madness Event will be used for the ongoing support of the athletic programs at the Clinton High School & the Clinton Junior High School. To ensure the continued success of our athletic programs, please plan on attending or otherwise financially supporting the Event.

Schedule for the Evening: (Music & hors d’oeuvres will be provided.)
Social hour: 6:00 pm
Main event: 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, with the $5,000 Grand Prize Drawing at about 10:00 p.m.

Again ONLY 200 TICKETS WILL BE SOLD. Each ticket costs $100.00 and allows admission for up to four adult guests and one entry into the $10,000 Maroon Madness Drawing. Below is a form to complete and send to Wendy Brown(Booster Club Treasurer) to purchase tickets. Tickets will also be sold at upcoming High School and Junior High sporting events. (Ticket purchasers must be age 21 or older.).

Thank you for your continued support of Clinton athletics.
Clinton Athletic Boosters Club
“Maroon Spirit Starts Here”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

RIP Davy Jones 1945-2012

Davy Jones was a promising 18-year-old actor from England when he found himself among the guest performers on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on Feb. 9, 1964 — the same night about 75 million people tuned in to catch the American debut of the Beatles. Like so many others who watched the show from near and far, Jones considered it a life-changing experience.

Lead in to Daydream Believer
Chip: 7A
Davy: What number is this Chip?
Chip & Other 3 Monkees: 7A!
Davy: Ok, you know what I mean, like don't get excited man, it's because I'm short I know.

Looking on from the wings as hundreds of teenagers, mostly girls, were screaming ecstatically while listening to the four musicians who came from a town only 20 miles away from his own hometown of Manchester, Jones knew then he wanted a career in pop music rather than theater.

A little more than a year later he auditioned for and was accepted as a member of the Monkees, a pop band created for a television show developed in the wake of the success of the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" film.

The new group's fame quickly came to rival that of the Fab Four after NBC-TV executives put Jones and bandmates Micky Dolenz(who Wapella's Todd Ryan WHS '81 ran into at an airport one time), Michael Nesmith (who never had a lot of dealings with anyone from Wapella, but kind of looked and acted like he was from Wapella) and Peter Tork (who seemed more likely to be from Lane or Weldon) into the living rooms of millions of viewers every Monday night. The show ran from 1966 to 1968.

Jones, who died Wednesday at 66 of a heart attack in Martin County, Fla., was the group's counterpart to Beatle Paul McCartney as the Monkees' romantic heartthrob, and his British accent lent the band a dash of international intrigue in songs on which he was the lead singer, including a couple of their biggest hits, "Daydream Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You."

"That David has stepped beyond my view causes me the sadness that it does many of you," Nesmith wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday. "I will miss him, but I won't abandon him to mortality.… David's spirit and soul live well in my heart."

Although initially dismissed in music circles as a television fantasy more than a musical reality, the Monkees charted nearly two dozen singles during a heyday from 1966 to 1970 and became the first, and only, act to score four No. 1 albums on the Billboard chart in the same calendar year.

"It's a sad day for me," said filmmaker Bob Rafelson, co-creator of "The Monkees" with Bert Schneider who also produced their avant-garde 1968 film "Head." "Of all the films I've made that have received attention from the Academy Awards, or Cannes [Film Festival] or the New York Film Critics Awards, nothing ever pleased me more than hearing a [radio] announcer say 'Here's Davy Jones singing "Daydream Believer." ' "

Although never inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Monkees have long been lauded for the boost they gave many songwriters by recording their compositions, including Neil Diamond, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Harry Nilsson, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and John Stewart.

It was Jones who strongly lobbied for the group to record "Cuddly Toy," a song written by Nilsson, who was then supporting himself as a computer programmer for a bank in the San Fernando Valley. Later known as the composer of the Three Dog Night hit "One" and the singer on hits of his own such as "Without You" and "Everybody's Talking," Nilsson's big break came from the Monkees.

"Back in 1967 it meant something for them to record one of your songs," said John Scheinfeld, writer and producer of the 2010 documentary "Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?"

"In our film, Micky told the story of how Harry and Davy and Harry's publisher Lester Sill were walking out of the studio after the recording session, and Lester turned to Harry and said, 'Well, you can quit your job at the bank now.' It drew a lot of attention to Harry."

David Thomas Jones was born Dec. 30, 1945, and gained success in his native country as a child actor with roles in different series shown on the BBC. At 11, he had an important role in the long-running soap opera "Coronation Street." After a successful run on London's West End as the Artful Dodger in a production of the musical "Oliver!" in his teens, Jones re-created the part on Broadway, landing a Tony Award nomination. It was that production that was highlighted by Sullivan in the same show on which the Beatles appeared for the first time.

He also trained to be a jockey — he stood 5 feet 3 — and his passion for horses stayed with him through his life.

Rafelson said he and Schneider auditioned 437 actors and musicians, including Stephen Stills, David Crosby, the Lovin' Spoonful and future members of Three Dog Night, before zeroing in on the four who became the Monkees.

Some of the band members' desire to be taken seriously musically led to notorious power struggles with TV and music publishing executives. But that wasn't a big concern for Jones.

"Eventually Peter and Mike, especially, wanted to write, play and record … or be behind the camera," Jones told a Springfield, Mass., newspaper earlier this year while on a solo tour. "But I just wanted to be in the show, fall in love twice in each episode and kiss the girls. I had no ambition to be Steven Spielberg or Cecil B. DeMille."

Still, Rafelson credited Jones for taking a vocal role in the group's efforts to take more control over their music and their careers.

Tork quit the band in 1968 and the Monkees continued briefly as a trio, then disbanded in 1970. Jones promptly resurfaced the following year with a guest appearance as himself in "Getting Davy Jones," one of the most celebrated episodes of "The Brady Bunch," in which Marcia Brady launched a campaign to persuade the teen idol to visit her school.

In the '80s the group had a resurgence sparked by a CD box set issued by the archival label Rhino Records, and that led to then-new MTV showing episodes of the original series that revived interest in the band. They have since done several reunion tours, usually without Nesmith, including a 45th anniversary round of shows last year that was cut short because of differences that cropped up among Jones, Dolenz and Tork.

Although he was comfortable with his highest-profile job, Jones sometimes worried that the Monkees' legacy would follow him for the rest of his life, which he spent acting in numerous TV shows, theatrical productions, and doing voiceover work for cartoons and animated features.

"My biggest fear, years ago, when I played Jesus in 'Godspell,' " he told a New Jersey newspaper last year, "was that I'd be dying on the cross one night and someone would yell out, 'Hey Davy! — Do 'Daydream Believer'!"

Jones also toured as a solo act, blending Monkees hits and his favorite musical theater songs, and he had performed most recently Feb. 19 in Oklahoma. He had a Southland date scheduled for March 31 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

"I try to be positive today in my life," Jones said earlier this year. "There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way."

He is survived by his third wife, Jessica Pacheco, four children from previous marriages and several grandchildren.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Disaster Hits Harrisburg Illinois

Hey all you Wildcats, if you have it in you, Harrisburg, Illinois just got crushed last night.

Monday, February 20, 2012

RIP Gene Vance, 1923-2012

Ellis Eugene (Gene) Vance, 88, of Champaign, passed away at 2:30 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 16, 2012) at his home in Champaign.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Morgan Memorial Home, 1304 Regency Drive West, Savoy. Interment will be held at the Mount Hope/Roselawn Cemetery. Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at the First Presbyterian Church, 302 W. Church St., Champaign.

Mr. Vance was born Feb. 25, 1923, in Clinton, the son of Ellis Wilson and Barbara Armstrong Vance. He married Grace Hoberg Vance on Aug. 7, 1943, at Camp Wolters, Texas. She preceded him in death on Aug. 10, 1980.

He married Janann Duffy Hagan on Aug. 28, 1981. She survives.

Also surviving are two sons, Jon (Sara) Vance of Solana Beach, Calif.; James (Tricia) Vance of Cordova, Tenn.; two daughters, Sue (Roger) Peterson of Champaign and Martha (Tom) Tanner of Loveland, Ohio; three stepchildren, Michael Hagan of Savoy; Kelly (Rick) Willis of Waverly, Iowa, and Shannon Hagan of San Diego, Calif.; seven grandchildren, Jennifer (Peter) Ballentyne of Hackensack, N.J.; Jonathan (Meredith) Vance of San Diego, Calif., Kathryn (Jason) Whalen of Champaign, Scott (Rachel) Tanner of Hoover, Ala., Emily Grady of Champaign, Sarah and Andrew Tanner of Loveland, Ohio; three step-grandchildren, Tyler, Eric and Ryan Willis of Waverly, Iowa; and five great-grandsons.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

He graduated from Clinton High School in 1940 and from the University of Illinois in 1947, earning a B.S. degree in Physical Education and a master's degree in Education in 1955. He was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

Gene was a member of one of college basketball's greatest teams, the Illinois' "Whiz Kids" of 1941-42 and 1942-43. This team won back-to-back Big Ten Conference Championships. The team was broken up on March 1, 1943, when all five starters headed to active duty for service in World War II. He served three years in the U.S. Army, including 16 months in Europe and earned two bronze stars during his military career.

Following his career at Illinois, he continued to play in the National Basketball Association from 1947-49 with the Chicago Stags (now the Chicago Bulls.) When that league folded into the NBA, he played for the Tri-Cities Blackhawks and the Milwaukee Hawks from 1949-1951. During this period, in the off season, he worked for Wilson Sporting Goods Company in Chicago and as a salesman for Bailey and Himes Sporting Goods in Champaign. He was recalled to military service in January 1951. He served one year in Korea.

After four years of coaching basketball at LaSalle-Peru High School, he and his family returned to Champaign when he rejoined his alma mater to serve as Field Director of the University of Illinois Alumni Association for four years prior to his being named executive director from 1956-1967. He served as Illinois' director of athletics from 1967-1972, and as senior development officer at the University of Illinois Foundation until his retirement in 2000.

Gene Vance is remembered as a fine gentleman, fierce competitor, great Maroon, and a Fighting Illini. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

All flags 1/2 mast please for Gene Vance, US Army WWII and Korea, and two-time Bronze Star winner.

Thursday, February 9, 2012 Mourns the Passing of Johnnie Harrold

Johnnie Mitchell Harrold, 87, Wapella, died at 6:43 p.m. Monday (Feb. 6, 2012) at his family residence, Wapella.

His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Friday at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton. Bill Vandervort and Tim Barbee will officiate. Interment will be at Memorial Park Cemetery, Clinton, with military honors. Visitation will be from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to Wapella Christian Church.

He was born Dec. 8, 1924, in Wapella, son of Thornton O. and Marie Sunderland Harrold. He married Virginia Jean Dower on Jan. 1, 1945, in Miami Beach, Fla. She passed away Jan. 8, 1994. He later married Evie Strange on April 7, 2000, in Clinton.

He is survived by his wife, Evie Harrold, Wapella; daughter, Barbara (Howard) Horton, Killen, Ala.; son, Bob (Rose) Harrold, Wapella; five grandchildren, David (Cheryl) Foster, Tupelo, Miss.; Stacey Foster, Lake Mary, Fla.; Mike (Theresa) Harrold, Aurora; Eric Harrold, Kenney; and Joe (Hannah) Harrold, Crystal Lake; two great-grandchildren, Taylor Jones, Lake Mary, Fla., and Gage Foster, Tupelo, Miss.

He was a member of Wapella Christian Church. He served in the U.S. Army.

Johnnie was a member of the Wapella Fire Department and the Clinton American Legion Post 103.

He was an ace mechanic, starting with Rolin Hartman in Wapella, worked at Crang Motors in Clinton and was a partner in Thomas & Harrold Garage in Clinton and finally retired at Finfrock Motors in Clinton.

All flags 1/2 mast please, for Johnnie Harold, US Army.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 Mourns the Passing of Robert Thorp

Robert Eugene Thorp, 86, Wapella, IL, passed away at 6:48 AM Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 at his residence in Wapella. Funeral services will be 10 AM Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 at the United Methodist Church, Clinton, IL with Rev. Greg Courtright and Rev. C. Don Ferrill officiating. Burial will be in Memorial park Cemetery, Clinton, IL. Visitation will be from 5-8 PM Wednesday evening at Calvert Funeral Home, Clinton. Memorials may be made to the United Methodist Church, Clinton, IL or to the Alzheimer’s Assoc.

Robert was born on May 25, 1925 in Clinton, IL, the son of Robert Irvin and Fern Earnestine Long Thorp. He married Betty Lou Wagner on Sept. 9, 1944 in Clinton, IL.

Survivors include: his wife of 67 years of marriage, Betty Lou Thorp of Wapella, IL; 3 sons: Gary Lee (Linda) Thorp – Homewood, IL, Christopher James Thorp of Gibson City, IL and Kim Wagner (Jeanie) Thorp of Heyworth, IL; 1 daughter: Robin Rhea Mock of Wapella, IL; 7 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and 2 brothers.

He was a member of the United Methodist Church, Clinton, IL. He served in the US Navy from July 1943 until January 1946.

Robert retired from farming after 61 years and he had also retired from Wallace Business Forms. He was a member of the American Legion and the DeWitt County Farm Bureau. He was a former Sunday School Teacher.

Robert was one of the first farmers to implement conservation tillage with no-till farming in the area.

Bob Thorp was a gentleman, a fine neighbor, and an excellent pinochle player. He will be sadly missed by all those who knew him.

All flags 1/2 mast please for Robert Thorp, US Navy, WWII

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It turned out that the three men really were desperadoes. They were from Clinton

This from my friend Jim Ridings in his history of Kankakee. The story is a little rough, but you have heard worse.

Raymond Parker owned a gas station and lunchroom one mile east of Grant Park. It became a target of several armed robberies in the 1920s.

At 5:45 a.m., on March 9, 1928, three men -- two white, one black -- walked into the station. Parker thought they were acting suspicious, as they walked in and out of the place a few times. He thought they might be robbers, and he kept close to his gun under the counter.

The men asked for hamburgers. Parker said he “did not serve colored people.” Walter Reynolds, the black man, “laughed and said it would be all right with him.” The white men, Kelse Humphrey and Harold North, said they would all eat outside in the car. Parker cooked six hamburgers and the men paid the bill

Reynolds seemed to be reaching inside his coat. Parker saw a gun in there. Parker pulled his gun and shot Reynolds in the head, killing him.

Parker, who also was an auxiliary sheriff’s deputy, took Humphrey and North to the county jail.
It turned out that the three men really were desperadoes. They were from Clinton, and earlier in the day they had stolen a car from a showroom in Johnson City, then broke into a hardware store and stole numerous items, including bullets. They had armed robbery in mind as they drove north and stopped in Grant Park.

The gas station was the target of an armed robbery prior to this. At 1 a.m., on March 29, 1925, two men walked into the gas station and pointed guns in Parker’s face and ordered him to put up his hands. Parker smashed his large fist into the jaw of one gunman, knocking him down. The other robber ran away. As the first man was getting up off the floor, Parker pulled his own gun and shot the man in the neck.

It was not a serious wound. Two hours later, the robber was in the county jail. He gave his name as Andrew Thomas, and later was identified as Oliver Black.

A third robbery happened on Aug. 8, 1928. Four men came into Parker’s gas station at 4 a.m. After eating sandwiches, the men got up, and it looked like they were going to pay. Instead, they pulled guns. They bound and gagged Parker and robbed the business.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yahtzee! Minnesota Man with Deep Wapella Roots Makes Big Find about President John Tyler

Well, I'll be Tippecanoed and Tyler tooed...This just in......President John Tyler's (born in 1790) has grandchildren who are very, much alive

Former President John Tyler, born 221 years ago, still has two living grandchildren. The one-term president isn't a well-known historical figure; he's probably best remembered for helping to push through the annexation of Texas in 1845, shortly before leaving office.

So, how is it possible that a former president who died 150 years ago would still have direct descendents alive today? As it turns out, the Tyler men were known for fathering children late in life. And that math is pretty outstanding when added up:
John Tyler was born in 1790. He became the 10th president of the United States in 1841 after William Henry Harrison died in office. Tyler fathered Lyon Gardiner Tyler in 1853, at age 63. Then, at the age of 71, Lyon Gardiner Tyler fathered Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr. in 1924 and four years later at age 75, Harrison Ruffin Tyler. Both men are still alive today.

That means just three generations of the Tyler family are spread out over more than 200 years. President Tyler was also a prolific father, having 15 children (8 boys and 7 girls) with two wives.
What makes this story even more interesting (I am not sure it could get less interesting) is that is was drummed up by none other than Danny Dixon, of Eagan Minnesota, the son of Ann Toohill Dixon, of Wapella. Not that Danny did all that much research, or really had much of anything to do with the story, but I don't think I would ever have found out about it, if not for my 3rd cousin and look-alike Danny Dixon, who also is a very handsome man.

Thanks for the tip Danny!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Time Flies Like an Arrow; Fruit Flies Like a Banana and Fall Flings to Waynesville

Lifted this straight from Waynesville's Facebook Page, but it looks like great fun. Our good neighbors to the west are having a Fall Fling naming contest. They were kind enough to take my (absurd) suggestion "A Salute to Kitchen Appliances" as token nomination for themes for their fling. I recall that being a Bob Newhart bit, but it could have come from Cecil Brown or somebody who kind of acted like Bob Newhart.

You can get over to Waynesville's Facebook Page here. I am backing the Salute to Kitchen Applicances, but have at it.

Go Waynesville! Go Wapella! Go DeWitt County, the Festival Capital of the Midwest.

Which of the 8 options would be the best choice to be chosen to be the theme of the 2012 Waynesville Fall Fling? Voting will remain open through February 29th. (We will re-share this question from time to time.)

Retro T.V.- 70's and 80's television
The good old days-Remembering everything classic
Waynestock- Rock and Roll in the ville
John Waynesville- Western theme
Dr. Seuss’s Whoville in Waynesville
Waynesville, Center of the Universe
    Salute to Kitchen Appliances
    Fiesta- Hispanic party theme

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