PRINCETON — Francis “Frank” P. Merkley, 98, went to be with his Lord on Friday, March 15, 2019, while at Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton.
He was born Oct. 11, 1920, in DePue to Albert and Theresa (Sonnenberg) Merkley. He married Ireta “Rita” Rowley on March 15, 1947, in the St. Louis Catholic Church rectory. They were blessed with two children, Pamela Theresa Merkley and Lon Francis Merkley.
Frank worked very hard all his life, leaving school at a young age to work with his father in his hauling business — first with horses and wagon, and then with trucks. He next worked for Princeton Bottling Works, sometimes working inside and often driving a truck to deliver “pop.”
On Nov. 11, 1942, Frank enlisted in the Army, serving as a truck driver. He was assigned to the 3944th Quartermaster trucking company in the Asiatic Theatre and CBI theatre of war. He drove many types of military vehicles, such as 2-ton trucks, semi trailers and trailers, 10-ton diesel trucks, hauling supplies, equipment and personnel from station to station. He served 30 months overseas until Nov. 7, 1945. Frank was very proud to serve his country during World War II.
Upon returning, he worked again for Princeton Bottling Works, Arwell Pest Control Company and Orkin Pest Control Company. In 1978, Frank became owner of Service Enterprises, his own pest control company, which he owned and operated until 2010. He retiring at the age of 90. Frank truly enjoyed greeting and talking with his customers each month, and became good friends with many of them. He was often called “The Bug Man.” His customers’ dogs loved the treats he brought for them also.
After retiring, Frank remained very active. He was busy caring for his lawn and his home, driving to purchase his lottery tickets daily, and, most importantly, visiting the cemetery. Frank enjoyed fishing, playing cards and was an avid trapper. He was a lifelong Cubs and Bears fan and enjoyed good times with his family. He lived life fully.
Frank was a very proud 55-year continuous member of American Legion Post 125 and the VFW of Princeton, joining on March 15, 1964.
He is survived by his son, Lon (Jane) Merkley; his grandchildren, Dr. Michelle (Christopher) Oliver, Lance (Tabatha) Merkley and Jarrod (Elisha) Merkley; and his great-grandchildren, Elana Martinez, Mason Merkley, Carter Merkley, Alexander Oliver and Porter Merkley. Also surviving are his brothers-in law and sisters-in-law, Walt and Gladys Rowley, and Bill and Silvia Nelson, with whom he was very close; and many nephews, nieces and cousins.
Frank was preceded in death by his loving wife of 68 years, Ireta “Rita” Merkley; his daughter, Pamela Merkley; his parents, Albert and Theresa Merkley; four brothers, Albert (Lula Belle) Merkley, Norman (Elaine) Merkley, Royce (Lila) Merkley and James Sonny Merkley; five sisters, Helen Allen, Sarah (Robert) Oloffson, Marie (Joe) Matuszewski, Dolores (Charles) Blair and LaVonne McCollum; and his mother-in-law, Kathryn Nelson.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 23, with visitation from 9 to 11 a.m., at the Grant-Johnson Funeral Home in Princeton. Interment will follow at the Elm Lawn Memorial Park, Princeton, with military rites conducted by Princeton American Legion Post 125.
Memorial may be directed to the Princeton Veterans Group or the Second Story Youth Group.
Online condolences may be left at www.grant-johnsonfh.com.