William E. "Bill" Harner (1929 - 2014)

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William E. "Bill" Harner, 85, of Champaign and formerly of Vandalia, passed away unexpectedly, but peacefully, at his home on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. Earlier in this summer he had again been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment at the time of his death.
In accordance with his emphatic instructions, he will be cremated and there will not be any services. His remains will be buried in Griffith Cemetery in rural Brownstown, next to those of his wife and near numerous ancestors. Morgan Memorial Home in Savoy was in charge of arrangements.
Bill was born in his parent's home Dec. 21, 1929 in Vandalia, the only child of J. W. Vane and Ina E. B. (Muma) Harner. According to family legend, it snowed a great deal on that Dec. 21.
He attended school in Vandalia, graduating from that high school in 1948. Bill was very involved in athletics throughout his school career, lettering in baseball, track, and basketball. Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, reaching the rank of corporal. He said that he fought the "War of the Islands" protecting Manhattan, Governors and Staten Islands between 1948 and 1950.
On June 20, 1950, he married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Isbell, in Vandalia. Their union lasted until her death in 2011.
Following the Army, Bill attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He graduated from Greenville College and became a schoolteacher. He taught and coached sports in both St. Elmo and the Mahomet-Seymour School District. Following his retirement as a teacher, he continued for many years to volunteer as the starter for Mahomet-Seymour track meets. He remained an avid sports fan all his life, always thoroughly reading first the sports section of the newspaper each day. Of particular interest to him were area high school sports, St. Louis Cardinals, all things Fighting Illini and Chicago Bears.
He was known for his quick wit and sense of humor. Instead of memorials he requested those so inclined have a beverage in his memory at their favorite "watering hole."
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife and a son who was stillborn. He is survived by his son, Andy, of Champaign; daughter, Anne, of Normal; and his grandson, Bill, of Chicago.
Published in The Leader-Union from Sept. 9 to Sept. 17, 2014
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