Robert W. Colwell (1923 - 2013)

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Robert W. Colwell, 90, of rural Jacksonville, passed away on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, at St. John's Hospital in Springfield.

He was born on Feb. 4, 1923, in Hull, the son of Edward Sprague and Mabel Orr Colwell. He married Lillian H. Young on June 22, 1947 in Hannibal, Mo., at the Fifth Street Baptist Church.

Surviving are his wife, Lillian; his daughter, Kathryn Colwell, of Rockford; his son, William Colwell (wife, MaryJo MacSwain) of Park Ridge; his grandson, Eric Colwell, of Beijing, China; and nieces and nephews: Philip Colwell, Nancy Rudolph, Jean Vaux, Kevin Miller, and Mark Miller.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Edward Sprague Colwell and Richard Orr Colwell, and nephew Thomas Colwell.

Growing up in Hull, and excelling in sports and academics, Robert graduated from Hull High School in 1941. After studying two years at Hannibal LaGrange College, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy V-12 College Training Program and completed officer training at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo.; Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa; and the U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipman School at Columbia University. During World War II, as an ensign, he was assigned to the USS PCE 882, based at Guam, where he served as communications officer and navigator. After the war, Robert returned to Iowa State University and graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in June, 1947. He held engineering jobs at U.S. Rubber in Detroit, Barnes Pump Manufacturing in Mansfield, Ohio, and Maytag Corporation in Newton, Iowa. With his wife Lillian, he owned and managed Gambles hardware and furniture stores in Roodhouse and Mount Sterling before retiring in 1984.

His hobbies included woodworking, astronomy, and motorcycling. He enjoyed travel, including trips to Canada and Europe, and conferences of the Ancient Mariners, an association of World War II Navy Midshipmen. Robert was a member of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, VFW, the American Legion, Tri-County Woodworking Club, and the HRCA Honda Riders Club.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Williamson Funeral Home in Jacksonville. The family will meet friends from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday. A graveside service will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday at Akers Chapel Cemetery near Hull. Memorials may be made to the Rev. James Caldwell Chapter NSDAR, Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, or Akers Chapel Cemetery in Hull. Condolences may be left online at
Funeral Home
Williamson Funeral Home
1405 Lincoln Avenue
Jacksonville, IL 62650
(217) 243-1010
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Published in Jacksonville Journal-Courier on Oct. 29, 2013
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