Richard Allen Behnken
Wilson's Funeral Home - Steeleville
509 W Illinois
Steeleville, IL

Richard Allen Behnken

1936 - 2021

STEELEVILLE – Richard Allen Behnken, 85, of Steeleville, passed away Monday, July 12, 2021, in Coulterville Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, Coulterville, Illinois.

Richard was born March 26, 1936, in Willisville, IL, to Henry John and Nellie Mae (Steele) Behnken. He married Betty Jean Bixby on December 1, 1956, and they were blessed with two children: David Behnken and Sheila (Behnken) Gaetz. Betty and David preceded him in death. He then married Gloria Matheny in 1984 and three children were added to his life: Keith Parks, Kenny Parks, and Melody (Parks) DeCollo. Gloria preceded him in death.

Richard graduated eighth grade in Willisville and was a Trico High School graduate. He proudly served in the US Army from 1955 to 1957 and obtained the rank of Corporal. Richard worked as an operator of heavy equipment and was instrumental in building Carlyle Lake and many roads in the area. In 1965, he started his mining career at Captain Mine where he operated many different machines from dozers to shovels and his favorite was the World's Largest Shovel, The Marion 6360. The Marion 6360 was featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel. Richard loved seeing the children swimming in the lake he built at the family farm outside of Steeleville. He enjoyed playing with them in the woods and in the snow in the wintertime. Richard was baptized and confirmed at Post Oak Church in Campbell Hill and then became a member of Peace Lutheran Church in Steeleville. He was a life member of Alma Lodge 497 in Steeleville, a member of UMWA Local 1392 Captain Mine and Operating Engineers Local 520.

Richard is survived by his daughter, Sheila (Jonnie) Gaetz of Percy; stepchildren Keith (Angie James) Parks of DeSoto, Kenny Parks of Ballwin, MO, and Melody (Todd) DeCollo of Oceanside, CA; grandchildren: Alex (Kaitlin) Behnken, Joel Behnken, Cameron Gaetz, Levi Gaetz, Madison Gaetz, Brandon Parks and Dominick DeCollo; great grandchildren: Blake Behnken, Ariana Gaetz, Ezra Canady, and Aiden Parks. He is also survived by sisters and brothers-in-law; Mary Liefer of Red Bud, Ann (Alan)Wolter of Sedona, AZ, Carolyn Bixby of O'Fallon, Kathy (Steve) Earl of Marion, and Greg (Tina) Newbold of Creal Springs, and many beloved nephews and nieces.

Richard was also preceded in death by his Parents, wife Betty; son David; wife Gloria; sister Norma Jean Ohlau; daughter-in-law Leah (Mueller) Behnken; and brothers-in-law: Elmer Ohlau, Maurice Bixby; and Leonard Bixby.

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, July 17, 2021, at Peace Lutheran Church, Steeleville, with Parish Assistant Minister Julie Posth officiating. Burial to follow at Peace Lutheran Cemetery, Steeleville. Friends may call 5:00–8:00 p.m., Friday, July 16, 2021, Wilson's Funeral Home, Steeleville, and 9:00-10:00 a.m., Saturday, at the church. A Masonic Service will be at 7:30 p.m., Friday. Memorials may be given to Peace Lutheran Church or Shriner's Hospital for Children and can be mailed to Wilson Funeral Home, P.O. Box 217, Steeleville, IL 62288. To sign the guestbook, visit

Published by The Southern Illinoisan on Jul. 14, 2021.
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Wilson's Funeral Home, Steeleville
509 W. Illinois St., Steeleville, IL
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Peace Lutheran Church
303 North Mulberry, Steeleville, IL
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Rich, Betty and Phillip Gaetz
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