Leroy John Joseph Berkel, 92, of Belleville, Ill., born April 17, 1922, in Belleville, Ill., died
Monday, May 26, 2014, at Rosewood of Swansea, Ill.
Lee attended St. Mary's Catholic School and Cathedral High School in Belleville, Ill. He received his GED from Belleville Township High School West at the age of 80.
Lee served in the U.S. Army 30th Division, 119th Infantry, Company I during World War II, from November 4, 1942, to Oct. 18, 1945, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.
He landed in France on D-Day+1, remained with the 30th
Infantry through the Battle of the Bulge, and continued until the end of the war. He won five Battle Stars for the European Theatre of Operations; a Liberation Certificate from France; and a Bronze Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster. He was wounded at the Battle for Mortain but did not accept the Purple Heart because he didn't want to worry his mother.
Mr. Berkel worked in the bottle shop at Stag Brewery for 46 years. He was a member of
St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church in Belleville, Ill. where he had served as an usher and extraordinary minister and had been a member of the Holy Name Society. For years he attended daily Mass there. He had also been a member of the Belleville Senior Citizens and the AARP and enjoyed bowling in the senior bowling leagues.
After he retired, he spent a lot of years working with wood. All of his children received home-crafted items that he had made for them, and he planned ahead for each of the grandchildren to get a special piece of artwork for their wedding gift. He was a member of the Belleville Area Holzschnitzers.
Lee was a very devoted father and husband. He built his own house and enjoyed living there with his family. For years he had a large garden to feed everyone, and after he retired, he turned it into a flower garden. At one time he had over 270 varieties of tall bearded hybrid iris and over 70 varieties of daffodils.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Jennie, nee Bequeret, Berkel; a brother, Melvin Berkel; two daughters-in-law, Sandy Johann and Mimi Brown; and a granddaughter, Jennifer Johann-Berkel.
Surviving are his wife of 68 years, Ruth Elizabeth Priscilla, nee Stratmann, Berkel, whom
he married on May 8, 1946, at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Paderborn, Ill, with Fathers
Edmund Sense, Joseph Orlet, and Willis Darling officiating; their nine children, Kenneth (Christiane) Berkel of Rubicon, Wis., Charles (Sandy) Berkel of Edwardsville, Ill.,
Edgar (Bena Silber) Berkel of Poughkeeepsie, N.Y., Janet Sorensen of Springfield, Ill.,
Joanne Lippincott of Belleville, Ill., Margaret (Edward) Williams of Shiloh, Ill., Thomas (Susan) Berkel of Troy, Ill.,
Barbara (Bruce) Jeremiah of Steeleville, Ill, and Steven (Maggie Kirk) Berkel of Belleville, Ill.; 18 grandchildren; 8 step-grandchildren;
11 great-grandchildren; 14 step-great-grandchildren;
two brothers, Lester "Mike" (Virginia) Berkel of Belleville, Ill., and Raymond (Phyllis) Berkel of Fairview Heights, Ill.; a sister, Jeanette (Jerry) Reeves of Lansing, Mich.;
and nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be made to St. Augustine Catholic Church, to Family Hospice, or to
. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.rennerfh.com.
Visitation: Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, Ill., and from 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday, May 29, 2014, at St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church, Belleville, Ill.
Funeral: A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 29, 2014, at St. Augustine Catholic Church, Belleville, Ill. Burial with military honors will follow at Lake View Memorial Gardens, Fairview Heights, Ill.
GEORGE RENNER & SONS FUNERAL HOME, Belleville, Ill.
George Renner & Sons Funeral Home
120 North Illinois Street Belleville, IL 62220
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on May 28, 2014