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PEKIN ~ John Ernest Beck, 85, of Pekin, passed away at 8:06 p.m. Sunday, July 9, 2017 at his residence.

Born April 6, 1932 in Cincinnati Township, Tazewell County to Elmer George and Erna Elizabeth (Heilman) Beck, he married Bonnie Kay Claton on November 2, 1958 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in rural Green Valley.  She survives.

Also surviving are one daughter, Lisa (Scott) Burgess of Danville; three grandsons, Noah Burgess, Ian Burgess and Blaine Burgess; one brother, Kenneth (Mary) Beck of Pekin; two nephews, Steve (Marylou) Beck of Canada and Rev. Gary (Valerie) Beck of Flint, Michigan and two nieces, Alona (Darold) Hardin and Gail (Steve) Wilson, both of Manito.  He also leaves his mother-in-law, Grace Fornoff of Green Valley and a sister-in-law, Sharon Collison of Cornell, Wisconsin.

He was preceded in death by his parents; one sister and brother-in-law, Florence and Bob Meyer.

A 1950 graduate of Pekin Community High School, John served in the United States Army during the Korean War.

An active farmer for 60 years in Cincinnati Township, John was proud of his family’s farming heritage, loved the land and loved to farm.  John also always had great respect for the conservation of nature, establishing a native tall-grass prairie and planting many trees on the farm to attract birds and wildlife.

He was a longtime volunteer fireman and a founding officer of the Cincinnati Fire Protection District.  He was chairman and a 35-year member of the board of trustees over the fire district.  He was a member of the Tazewell County Farm Bureau and a member and supporter of the American Legion.

He was a devoted member of St. John’s (Sand Prairie) Lutheran Church in rural Green Valley, where he had served the church as a Trustee, Elder, choir member, and Sunday school superintendent.  His greatest passion serving the church was as a longtime usher, ringing the bell as a call to worship and attending to the needs of the people.

John was an avid hunter and fisherman in the younger years and enjoyed woodworking.  He also had a green thumb and loved to garden, and was a beekeeper for many years.

His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 13, 2017 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in rural Green Valley.  The Rev. Thomas R. Wenndt, Rev. Gary Beck, his nephew, and DCE William Krueger will officiate.  Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory in Pekin, and also from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Thursday at the church.  Burial will be at Sand Prairie Cemetery in rural Green Valley, with military rites accorded by the United States Army.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. John’s Lutheran Church, 13443 Townline Road, Green Valley, IL 61534, to Good Shepherd Lutheran School, 3201 Court Street, Pekin, IL 61554, or to Cincinnati Fire Protection District, 12805 Illinois Route 29, Pekin, IL 61554.

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