FREEPORT – Merle Edward Smith, 97, passed away peacefully Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, at WinnPrairie Senior Living in Freeport.
He was born July 5, 1921, in rural Pomeroy, Iowa, the son of John E. and Ethlyn W. (Lundeen) Smith. He graduated with a class of six in 1938 from Jolley Iowa High School. He married Grace E. Keeney on Jan. 28, 1945, in the Little Church Around the Corner in New York City.
He was a tenant farmer near Pomeroy until he and Grace purchased the Keeney family farm near Lanark in 1962, which is now a centennial farm. Merle retired in 1982. Having joined the Masonic Lodge in 1947 in Jolley, Iowa, he maintained a lodge membership all his life. He also was a member of Lanark United Methodist Church, American Legion, and Grange. Merle had a strong belief in Jesus as his Savior. He served his country in the Navy as a Ship Fitter Second Class. During World War II, Merle served during the Normandy and Sicily invasions. While in the Navy from 1942 to1945, he almost sailed around the world only missing the distance from Calcutta, India to Manila, Philippines.
Merle enjoyed many rounds of golf, crossword and jigsaw puzzles, the comics, and loved to hear stories of his family’s activities. Many memories were made playing softball on church leagues, going on bus trips, going to Navy and family reunions, and traveling to Cherokee Village, Arkansas, for the winter months.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Grace; their children, Ellen (Huey) Meier of Dakota, Lyle (June) Smith of Lanark, Jane (Steve)Smith of Milledgeville, Judy Slick Legel of Sebring, Florida, and Robert (Francine) Smith of Morrison; grandchildren, David (Bonnie Freidag) Janssen, Susan (Kerry) Devine, Brian (Michele) Barklow, Shelly (Scott ) Mclain, Bradley (Sara) Smith, Amy (Tommy) Enright, Ron (Casey) Slick, Renae (Todd) Bartels, Amanda (Simuel) Hampton, Lindsey (Jeff) Engelhardt, Justin Smith and Jevin Smith; 21 great grandchildren; stepgrandchildren, Melody(Pat) Horn, Kevin Lewallen, and Misty Smith. seven step-great-grandchildren; five step-great-great-grandchildren; brothers, Loran (Pat) Smith of Beaverton, Oregon, and Darrell (Kathy) Smith of Sac City, Iowa; six nieces and four nephews;and numerous cousins.
He is predeceased by his parents; in-laws, Ray and Lulu Keeney; a brother, Eldon in infancy; sons-in-law, Randy Slick and Bill Legel; one great grandson; one step-granddaughter-in-law, Nancy Lewallen; sisters, Lodine Brittain, Eileen Hout; brothers-in-law, Clyde Brittain, Grant Kneller, Don Hout and James Keeney; and sister-in-law, Gladys Keeney.
Visitation will be 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Lanark United Methodist Church. A Masonic service, followed by church services officiated by Pastor Jarrod Severing, will be at 11 a.m. Military Rites will be accorded at the Lanark cemetery.
A memorial has been established.
The family appreciates the care and support provided by the caring and compassionate staff at WinnPrairie and FHN Hospice.
Visit schwarzfh.com to send condolences.