Lawrence (Larry) Russell Wilham, 85, of rural Lincoln, passed peacefully from this life at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, 2019, at St. John’s Hospital surrounded by his family.
Lawrence was born on April 21, 1933, a son of Lawrence, Sr., and Viola (Munyon) Wilham.
Lawrence was born in Elkhart Township and remained committed to preserving and maintaining local farmland throughout the remainder of his life. He graduated from Elkhart High School in 1951. He married his bride, Selma Sigrist on March 1, 1958. Their 60th anniversary in 2018 was a special milestone that both Larry and Selma joyously celebrated with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Larry and Selma became the proud parents of Kathy Mae (Maske) and Kevin Russell Wilham (wife Kathy).
Larry and Selma spent their married life farming local land and raising livestock. Eventually, their partnership developed into a woodworking business, “The Kindling Box”, that expanded beyond Larry’s “tinkering” in the woodshop. Together they crafted and sold products at local craft shows throughout Illinois including nearly 30 years as a vendor at “Christmas on Vinegar Hill”. He loved his woodshop and the possibilities that existed in every piece of wood he cut and the conversations and friendships that emerged when someone asked him about his work. In more recent years, Larry’s carvings became a mainstay of their business. His creations ranged from the serious to the quirky but always started with an “ol’ block of wood.” Larry would often say, “I’m just an old woodcarver,” but that aspect of his life brought him great joy. His creativity, humor, and love of history lives on in the homes of customers who bought his works over the years.
Larry loved the simple pleasure of enjoying the company of family and friends. He never knew a stranger and loved to share a simple cup of coffee with anyone who would sit and listen to his stories. He had a fondness for antique tractors and steam engines and enjoyed spending time at shows reminiscing about days gone by. His family knew him as a master fire builder, always up for impromptu weiner roast parties with family and friends along the banks of his beloved Salt Creek. He found great pleasure in fishing from its banks and driving around in his pick-up to check the water levels. He was a jokester and a storyteller who loved to tease and entertain his grandchildren and great-grandchildren relating his mischievous antics of boyhood as if they had just happened yesterday. He dearly loved family gatherings and eagerly anticipated the arrival of family and friends to share good food around the dining room table.
Larry served in the United States army, leaving the family farm after being drafted in 1953. He served in Germany during the Korean War, and although he downplayed his service compared to fellow soldiers serving in Korea at the time, his family admired him for answering his country’s call to serve. He was a member of American Legion Post 447 of Mt. Pulaski. He also served as a school board member for Elkhart Public Schools and as a trustee for the Broadwell Drainage District.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by three sisters and their spouses, Norma (Paul) Stewart, Louise (Rudy) Baumhardt, and Ethel (Ben) Spann as well as brothers-in law Albert, Robert, and Dallas Sigrist.
In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by his grandchildren Katie (Carl) Florczyk of Breese, Illinois; Sally (Alex) Norton of Daphne, Alabama; Thomas (Emily) Maske of Granger, Indiana, Kelsey (fiance, Noah Lindsay) Wilham of Morton, Illinois, and Kourtney Wilham of Mt. Pulaski, He also leaves behind 7 sweet great-granddaughters: Anna and Elyse Florczyk, Julia and Reese Norton, and Eva, Ella, and Molly Maske. Also, surviving are his sisters-in law, Janice Torbeck, Carolyn Sigrist, Juanita Sigrist, and Pearl Sigrist, and his many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Services for Larry will be held at 10:00a.m. on Thursday, February 14, 2019 at St. John United Church of Christ in Lincoln. Graveside service will be at 1:30p.m. at Steenbergen Cemetery in Mt. Pulaski. Visitation will take place from 4:00-6:00p.m. on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 also at the church. Memorial donations may be made in Larry’s name to St. John United Church of Christ in Lincoln or Zion Lutheran School, Mt. Pulaski. Services have been entrusted to Fricke-Calvert-Schrader Funeral Home, Lincoln.