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Merrill H. Gunning, 80, of Neponset, Il. died at 3:14 P.M. Sunday, October 22, 2017 at Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton, Il.   Merrill was born May 27, 1937 in Kewanee, the son of John Martin “Mart” and Maude Ethel (Berry) Gunning.  He graduated from Neponset High School with the class of 1955.  He married L. Eileen Miller on November 9, 1956 in Neponset.  She preceded him in death on July 27, 2014.   He was also preceded in death by his parents, one brother John Martin “Sonny” Gunning, Jr. and an infant daughter Cathleen.

Surviving are two daughters Patricia Miller of Peoria, Il.,  Virginia (Roger) Pratt of Kewanee, Il., two sons Robert M. Gunning of Rio Rancho, N.M., Richard H. Gunning of Ft. Collins, Co., seven grandchildren Stephanie (Nick) Tholin of Rockton, Il., Kimberly (Sean) Whippie of Kewanee, Kristen (Matt) Cannon of Normal, Il., Brett Miller of Peoria, Il., Aaron (Alyssa) Pratt of Kewanee, Il. , Luke Pratt of Kewanee, Scarlett Snider Gunning of Fort Collins, Co., one great grandson Darian Pratt Tholin, a great granddaughter Addilyn Tholin both of Rockton, Il.  and one brother Stephen Bradley (Carol) Gunning of the Villages, Fl.

Merrill was the owner and operator of the former Mercantile Printing in Neponset.  He was a member for 69 years at the First United Methodist Church in Neponset where he served on many boards and committees over the years.  He served as Sexton of the Floral Hill Cemetery in Neponset, was a 57-year member of the Masonic Lodge and a member of the Young Republicans.  Merrill was proud of the fact that he never missed an annual Neponset Alumni Association banquet.  He enjoyed history (particularly on Neponset) family genealogy and spending time with his family and friends. In 1986, Merrill orchestrated a hay lift among local farmers, sending thousands of hay bales via railway to the drought stricken farmers of the southeastern portion of the United States. As a result of his efforts, Merrill was invited to participate in an event at the Illinois State Fair along with other community leaders from throughout the State, where President Ronald Reagan expressed his appreciation to the men who reached out to help their fellow Americans. Being a devout Republican, Merrill was honored to share a handshake with President Ronald Reagan. 

Funeral services will be at 11:00 A.M. Friday, October 27, 2017 at the Schueneman Tumbleson Funeral Home, Kewanee, Il.  Pastor David Berry of Jacobs well Community Church in Normal, Il. will officiate.  Burial will be in the Floral Hill Cemetery, Neponset.  Visitation will be from 5-7 P.M. Thursday October 26th at the Schueneman-Tumbleson Funeral Home, Kewanee, Il. A memorial fund has been established, contributions may be left at the funeral home. Online condolences may be shared with family at ww.schuenemantumblesonfuneralhome.com.

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