Life-long Collinsville resident, Arvil W. "Sonny" Wrigley, died on Friday, August 1, 2014.
Arvil was born on April 18, 1922, the eldest son of William H. Wrigley, a coal miner, and Estelle Krause Wrigley. Except for a couple of boyhood summers with family friends on their farm near Clay City, Ill., and his years in the service, Sonny spent nearly the entirety of his life in Collinsville. He was a devoted supporter of Collinsville culture and history. Sonny attended Collinsville public schools and as a boy earned money mowing grass at Cahokia Mounds State Park and delivering telegrams for Western Union. He would later study aircraft maintenance at Parks Air College, near Cahokia. His love of automobiles and airplanes lasted all his life; he once served as president of the Volkswagen Club of Greater St. Louis and for many years was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1941 and served for the duration of the war at Navy facilities across the U.S. and in the South Pacific. He longest overseas tour of duty was in Guam, where he served as a member of the Naval Medical Research Unit.
On Thanksgiving, 1946, he asked Betty Ann Fuetsch on a first date, and she accepted. They went ice-skating at the Winter Garden in St. Louis. On April 19, 1947, his birthday celebration was extended by a day, when he and Betty Ann married. Over the next sixty-seven years, they traveled to most of the states of the union; saw hundreds of movies, plays, operas, and concerts; raised their family; and committed themselves to those causes that mattered to them most. Among those causes were the preservation of historically significant local buildings (both Sonny and Betty Ann served on the Collinsville Historic Preservation Commission); the repainting of the Brooks Catsup Bottle; and the development of the Collinsville Historical Museum, which progressed from a few rooms in a basement of the public library to a free-standing museum with an excellent collection of objects and documents of historical importance. After a career ofmany years, he retired from work at Scott Air Force Base, after which he specialized in wood-working and antique restoration.For his work on civic projects, Sonny received numerous accolades and awards, including, in 1999, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, from the Illinois Humanities Council; in 2005, the Spirit of Excellence Award, from the Collinsville Chamber of Commerce; and in 2006, the Irving Dilliard Distinguished Service Award, for long-term contributions to the city of Collinsville. In all of these awards, his most important collaborator was Betty, without whom, he insisted, he could have accomplished much less.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and by his brother, Robert L. Wrigley, in 1969; and his sister, Bette Ann Bruns, in 1997.He is survived by his wife Betty, at their home in Collinsville; his daughter, Kathryn Wrigley, of Springfield, Illinois; his son, Robert Wrigley, of Moscow, Idaho; his grandchildren, Adam Rucker, Philip Wrigley, Jordan Wrigley, Hannah Rucker, and Jace Wrigley; a great-granddaughter, Annabel Kunzeman; as well as nieces and nephews.
Donations may be made to the Collinsville Historical Museum at: (http://www.collinsvillemuseum.org/join.html); Hospice of Southern Illinois, Inc.: (https://www.hospice.org/); and St. John United Church of Christ, Collinsville: (http://www.stjohneucc.org/).
Online condolences may be made at: www.hakassly.com
Funeral: The family plans a celebration of Sonny's life from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 6, 2014, , at the Collinsville American Legion Post, 1022 Vandalia Street, Collinsville, Ill.
HERBERT A. KASSLY
Herbert A Kassly Funeral Home Ltd
515 Vandalia St Collinsville, IL 62234
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Aug. 6, 2014