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Merlin Walter Franke, 85, of El Paso, IL, passed away at 4:32 a.m., Sunday, June 12, 2016 at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, IL.

He was born November 16, 1930 in Benton, IL to Walter and Lillian (Midyette) Franke. He married Dorothy I. Miller on February 25, 1951 at St. John's Lutheran Church in Secor, IL. They just celebrated an incredible 65 years of marriage.

Surviving is his wife Dorothy of El Paso; five daughters, Sharon (Danny) Brown of Flanagan, IL., Karen (Tom) Wilkey of El Paso, Lisa (Dennis) Hocker of El Paso, Beth (Tom) McMahon of Mahomet, IL, Sandee (Mark, deceased) Kessinger of El Paso, IL; ten grandchildren, Rob (Jen) Brown, Jim (Christine) Brown, Rich (Kate) Brown, Bryan (Kenzie) Wilkey, Taylor Wilkey, Doug Hocker, Curt (Kearstyn Clark) Hocker, Sarah McMahon, Jordan (Abby) Kessinger, Chelsea Kessinger; 11 great-grandchildren, Alexa, Curran, Grace, Trevor, Riley and Preston Brown, Elliot Biggers, Krue, Rush and Kros Wilkey, and Ashton Hocker; one brother, Don (Belinda) Franke; four sisters, Evelyn (Don) Bates, Dr. Carolyn Franke, Orlyn Chairo, Judy (Joe) Vadala; one brother-in-law, Carl (Barb) Miller; special cousins, Greg and Rosie Franke and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Merlin graduated from El Paso High School in 1948. He was the co-owner and operator of El Paso Fertilizer and Flanagan Fertilizer for over 25 years. Merlin was involved in many activities during his life. He enjoyed bowling, playing cards, fishing, and spending time with his family. Merlin was also an El Paso volunteer firefighter for more than 35 years and enjoyed Stock Car racing from 1977 to 1982 winning many trophies and a championship.

He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in El Paso where services will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, June 16, 2016. Rev. Jonathan Boehne will officiate. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, at Ruestman-Harris Funeral Home in El Paso. Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church in El Paso or El Paso Community Well. Online tributes and condolences may be made to