Merle Pepper, 81, of Bismarck passed away at midnight Nov. 20, 2012, at the Illinois Veterans Home in Manteno Ill.
Merle was born July 1, 1931, in Champaign to Frank and Myrtle (Brewer) Pepper.
He married Dorothy Strong on Sept. 12, 1969, in Danville. She survives.
Other survivors include one son, Larry Lee Pepper (Mary Lynne Doherty) of East Dundee, Ill.; daughters Leta Lynn Pepper, Sharon (Mike) Packard of Bismarck, Donna Grubb of Union, Mo., and Marlene (Larry) Harper of Georgetown; sister, Betty Mandt; grandchildren, Michael Packard, Laura Woodason, Larry and Michael Harper, Denise Shepard, Greg Grubb and Susan Lamnert; and 12 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; previous wife, Harriet Howe; and son-in-law, Jerry Grubb.
Merle served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War from 1952 to 1954. After leaving the Army, he went into construction as a general contractor.
He had a great love for the outdoors, raised hunting dogs and enjoyed coon hunting. An avid circus fan, he brought joy to peoples’ lives though the Pepper Ridge Zoo, a traveling menagerie that toured the Midwest.
A celebration of Merle’s life will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, at Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center, A Life Celebration Home, in Danville. Drew Mentzer of Second Church of Christ will officiate. Visitation will be 9-11 a.m. on Saturday at the funeral home. Burial will take place at Patterson Cemetery in St. Joseph with military honors performed by the Danville American Legion Post 210.
Memorials can be made in Merle’s name to the Illinois Veterans Home in Manteno. Please join Merle’s family in sharing photos, videos and memories of him through his Tribute Wall at www.sunsetfuneralhome.com.