MORTON – Merlin R. Birky, 91, of Morton, passed away on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, in Morton, Ill.
Merlin was born on September 14, 1930, to William and Gertrude (Eisele) Birky, on the family farm south of Morton. He married LaRelda Nafziger Arnett on September 30, 2000.
Surviving are his wife, LaRelda Birky of Morton; two stepchildren, Marla (Nick) Graff of Morton and Dana E. (Stephanie) Arnett of Chicago; three step-grandchildren, Justin Grimm, Keri (Aaron) Eberle and Alma Arnett; two step-great-grandchildren, Rhys and Eli Eberle; one sister Florence Gerig of Morton; two nieces, Sally (Tim) Erdel of Mishawaka, Ind. and Lois Birky of Morton; two great-nieces, Sarah Beth (Matt) Getz and Rachel (Peter) Martens; one great-nephew, Matthew (Megan Hoewisch) Erdel; two great-grand-nephews; and one great-grand-niece.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one brother, Robert Birky; one sister, Margaret Cade; one sister-in-law, Maxine Birky; and two brothers-in-law, Ken Gerig and C.B Cade.
Merlin graduated from Morton High School in 1948. In 1953, he was drafted into the Army and spent 12 months in Korea. He was a farmer at heart but decided to further his education and went to Taylor University for one year, then transferred to Bradley, where he got his Bachelor and Masters degrees.
After his education, he worked at the First National Bank (PNC) and was responsible for Agriculture Loans and other related credits of the commercial loan portfolio. He retired as V.P. in 2007.
He loved the community of Morton and believed in giving back and supported it in many ways. He served many years on the Morton Library Board and was instrumental in raising funds for its expansion which doubled its size. He was chairman of the Pumpkin Festival and Parade Marshall in 1999. He helped start the Morton Community Foundation and was an active Rotarian since 1972, serving as the Club’s president in 1978.
He was privileged and grateful to have the opportunity to go on the Honor Flight to Washington D.C.
Merlin and LaRelda enjoyed traveling the USA and overseas and spent their winters in Florida.
He was a genuine Christian and member of the Groveland Missionary Church and served as Sunday School Superintendent for many years. He also served on the South Side Mission Board.
The family would like to thank Apostolic Christian Restmor for 1 ½ years of excellent and compassionate care.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 27, 2021 at Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Morton. Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 26, 2021, and from 9 to 9:45 a.m. prior to the service on Monday, both at the funeral home. Social distancing guidelines will be observed during the visitation and funeral service and masks are required. Burial will military honors will be at Groveland Mennonite Church Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Groveland Missionary Church, Morton United Methodist Church, or Morton Public Library.
Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home in Morton is handling arrangements.
To leave an online condolence for the family, visit www.knappjohnson.com.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Merlin Birky, please visit our floral store.