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

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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.

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