PEKIN - Paul Glynn Birchler, 94, of Liberty Village, Pekin, Ill., passed away Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014.
Formerly of Bartonville, Paul was born Dec. 10, 1919, in Coulterville, Ill., to Frank and Hazel Varner Wilson Birchler. He grew up on a dairy farm in Coulterville, surrounded by a huge extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles. He graduated from Sparta High School in 1938.
He met Clara Louise Wylie when he was the highest bidder for her pie at a pie auction and fundraiser at Clara's country school. As winner, Paul was required to share the pie with the baker. Paul's sister, Lucy, accompanied Paul to the auction, so Paul, Clara and Lucy ate the pie. A few years later, Paul volunteered to drive Clara and three of her sisters to their singing gig - the rest, as they say, is history. Paul and Clara were married January 9, 1943, in Perryville, Mo., and recently celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. Clara never stopped baking pies for Paul.
After accepting a job with Caterpillar Inc. in 1951, he moved his family to Bartonville. He accepted a job with Keystone Steel & Wire Co. in 1958, and retired from Keystone in 1982.
Everyone has heard that you can take the boy out of the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy. This was particularly true of Paul. He was forever a farm boy. He was a member of the Peoria County Farm Bureau. While working at Keystone, he devoted time to his landscaping business, sitting high atop his beloved Ferguson tractor. In addition, he kept farm animals and a large vegetable garden to provide food for his family.
Paul was a member of Bartonville United Methodist Church. He was a man of high moral values, a Christian who believed in hard work, industriousness, education, punctuality and perfect attendance. He disapproved of idleness, spending money, alcohol consumption, smoking and swearing.
Paul was fortunate to have lived 94 healthy, happy years and was especially happy when the Cardinals baseball team was winning, as he was a devout Cardinals fan. As a youth, he visited his uncle and cousins in St. Louis, who lived two blocks from Grande Avenue. Hopping on a streetcar, he and his cousins took advantage of free Knothole Passes offered to kids during the week. Except for weddings, nobody has seen Paul in anything but a Cardinals T-shirt for the past 20 years.
Paul was, to say the least, a fierce pinochle player. Only his "brave" children learned to play the game. They were dragged into the game any time that an extra player was needed, with little chance of escape. He expected his partner to always play the correct cards for a win. Everyone losing to him certainly felt a tad lacking in intelligence.
Paul kept himself busy but believed in keeping the Sabbath free of labor and for socializing with family. He was an accomplished woodworker who built cabinets for an entire kitchen. He made hundreds of items for his children and grandchildren, from bird houses to drop-leaf tables. With help from his father and two sons, using shovels and wheelbarrows, he dug the basement beneath his house after the house was more than 50 years old.
Paul enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, solitaire, crossword puzzles, cryptoquotes, and games/puzzles that were mentally challenging. He loved his wife and children and valued family time. Paul repeatedly proclaimed that he had a good life and married a "good woman."
Preceding him in death were his parents; brother, Robert Wesley Shaw Birchler; sister-in-law, Muriel Marie Bollmeier Birchler; and brother-in-law, Charles Robert Pearson.
Surviving are his wife, Clara; two sons; four daughters; 11 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. His children are Norman (Connie Wiemer) Birchler of Lacon, Ill., Leo (Paula Malmgren) Birchler of St. Charles, Mo., Linda (Terry) Bealmer of Mapleton, Ill., Shirley (Charlie) Schulze of Longmont, Colo., Betty (William "Hoot") Gibson of Bartonville, Ill., and Doris Birchler of Peoria, Ill. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren are Aaron (Kari Karlson) Birchler and their children, Christian, Abigail, Elijah and Eliana of Hankinson, N.D.; Andrew (Becky Simmons) Birchler and their children, Becka, Kailey and Andrew Jr. of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Beth (James) Rohr and their children, Kate and Jacy of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Jane (Jason) Hagen and their children, Henry and Hugh of Downers Grove, Ill.; Jeffrey Birchler of St. Peters, Mo.; Tamara Bealmer (fiance, Scott Bridgewater) and her children, Shane, Ryan and Erica Jurick of Chillicothe, Ill.; Christopher (Anna Sitkiewicz) Bealmer and children, Samuel and Allison of Washington, Ill.; Amy (Christopher) Wathen and their children, Cody and Jackson of Longmont, Colo.; Jennifer (Tyson) Abram and their children, Savannah and Brandon of Boulder, Colo.; Rusty (Darcy Schindler) Gibson and their children, Madelyn and Molly of Mapleton, Ill.; and Adam (Jennifer Markle) Gibson of Edwards, Ill. Paul is also survived by his sister, Evelyn Lucille Birchler Pearson of Mountain Home, Ark.; and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, at Davison-Fulton Bartonville Chapel, with the Rev. Ron Little officiating. Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, at the funeral home. Burial will be in Swan Lake Memorial Gardens in Peoria. Memorials may be made to
To review Paul's video tribute or to leave an online condolence for the family, visit www.davison-fulton-bartonvillechapel.com.