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Saturday, September 23, 2023
9:30 - 10:45am (Central time)
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Starts at 11:00am (Central time)
MORTON – Vurla M. Martin, 96, of Morton, went to be with her Lord and Savior on August 30, 2023, at Apostolic Christian Restmor in Morton.
She was born on February 26, 1927, in Pekin, to Jesse Henry and Fern Delilah (Shrock) Birkey. Her early childhood was lived at the multi-generational Willow Valley Stock Farm on Broadway Road in Pekin. Her parents moved to a farm south of Hopedale, Ill., where she lived with her five younger brothers. She graduated from Hopedale High School and Fort Wayne Bible College.
On June 26, 1949, she married Elmer Donald Martin at the Groveland Missionary Church. She taught art and music at Brush Hill School east of Pekin until the newly-married couple bought a house in Morton, Ill., which served as their home base for the 70 years of their marriage. They enjoyed many trips with their three daughters. Vurla spoke often of her trips to beautiful Oregon to visit the Shrock relatives and the Pacific.
Vurla was in eighth grade when she went on a school day trip to a Bloomington art exhibit. About that time, she also received a gift of various drawing pencils and large sheets of paper which she claims inspired her artistic talent and led her to a lifetime of creativity. Her many oil paintings are enjoyed by family and friends today. She was a charter member of the Morton Art Guild (est. 1969) and helped start the Morton Pumpkin Festival Art Show. Vurla taught adult painting classes in her home for 32 years. She was in Home Extension and was her daughters’ 4-H leader.
She dedicated much time to serving God through her church and music. She sang in Handel’s “The Messiah” from college until she was 80. Her talents were used to teach Sunday school, sing in the church choir, and create seasonal decorations to honor God. Vurla was a member of Grace Church in Morton and the Peoria Camp of the Gideons International Auxiliary.
She will be greatly missed by her three daughters, Judith (Roger) Zimmerman of Wauseon, Ohio, Janet (David) Teat of Ft. Wayne, Ind. and Joan (Jeff) Keach of Morton; Her eight grandchildren include Erin (Josh) Corwin, Joseph (Shannon) Zimmerman, James (Kate) Zimmerman, Brandon (Adrienne) Tate, Jackie (Adam) Pennington, Stephanie Teat, Daniel (Courtney) Keach and Elizabeth Keach. She was blessed with 14 great-grandchildren. She is survived by her brothers, Kenneth (Bonnie) Birkey of Hopedale, Norman Birkey of Hopedale, Melvin (Nancy) Birkey of Scottsdale, Ariz., Darrell (Cathy) Birkey of Hopedale, and Arlan (Sally) Birkey of Fort Wayne, Ind. Her surviving brother-in-law is Arlan (Lila) Martin of Morton.
Preceding her in death are her husband, E. Donald Martin in 2019 and in-laws, Delores Birkey, Margy Birkey, Gladys (Larry) Litwiller, Evelyn (Pete) Fanlund and Vernon (Evelyn) Martin.
The family wishes to express gratitude for the exceptional care given to Vurla at Morton Apostolic Christian Restmor and by OSF Hospice.
A private family burial will be at Groveland Evangelical Mennonite Church Cemetery in Groveland. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, September 23, 2023, at Grace Church in Morton, with Pastor Derek Henricks officiating. Visitation will be held from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m., prior to the service at the church.
Memorials may be made to Grace Church in Morton or Gideons International.
Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Morton is handling arrangements.
To leave an online condolence for the family, visit www.knappjohnson.com.