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Obituaries are so much more than a public notice that a friend or loved one has passed away.

Earl L. Urish

11/28/1925 - 6/19/2020

MORTON ~ Earl L. Urish, 94, of Morton, passed away at 11:35 p.m. Friday, June 19, 2020 at the Hopedale Nursing Home. He was formerly of Green Valley.

Earl Louis Urish was born November 28, 1925 to John N. and Tillie (Kreiling) Urish. He married Dorothy J. Heinzmann on July 10, 1965. She died and their daughter, Julaine “Julie”, was profoundly injured in an auto accident on March 24, 1978. Earl and Dorothy Elliott Birky Kemper were married on November 17, 1979. Dorothy was Julie's much loved other mother and caregiver for many years. Dorothy preceded Earl in death on March 9, 2016. Also preceding him in death were his parents, one step daughter, one step great grandson, two brothers, and a sister-in-law.

Surviving are Julie Urish of Morton; stepdaughter, Christine (Mick) McGann of Pekin; stepsons, Joe Birky and Bill Birky both of Green Valley; step son-in-law, Dick Schertz of Delavan; nine step grandchildren; fifteen step great grandchildren, and five step great great grandchildren.

Earl was a lifelong member of St. John's (Sand Prairie) Lutheran Church in rural Green Valley, where he taught Bible class for many years and served in various church offices including chairman and in the 1960's on the District Rural Life Commission.

Earl graduated from rural one-room Meixsell school and in 1942 from Green Valley High. He was active in 4-H livestock projects and in 1944 received recognition as an IL State Outstanding 4-H Club Member. He enrolled at the University of Illinois in 1942 and was inducted into the Army on Aug. 9, 1944. Trained as an infantry replacement at Camp Hood, he was on his way overseas by Dec. of that year. He served 19 month overseas in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater as a paratrooper with the elite 11th Airborne Division where he was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Bronze Star for "meritorious achievement in ground combat" against the Japanese during the liberation of the Philippines. When the Japanese capitulated he volunteered for an Honor Guard mustered to protect MacArthur during the early days of the Occupation and so was in the first flight of paratroopers to descend on Japan on Aug. 30, 1945, day one of the Occupation. After guarding MacArthur for one month, the Honor Guard returned to the 11th Airborne and Urish was on occupation duty at Sendai, Honshu, and Sapporo, Hokkaido. Among the decorations Urish received were the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with battle stars for Leyte and Luzon, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon and Presidential Unit Citation and the Army of Occupation Medal. Urish was promoted to First Sergeant of E Company. He left Japan for home and a return to the University of Illinois in August, 1946.

At the University Urish was a member and President of Alpha Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho professional agricultural fraternity. He was awarded membership in Alpha Zeta and Gamma Sigma Delta, honorary agricultural societies. He graduated with highest honors and received University Honors (Bronze Tablet) for ranking in the top 3% of his graduating class.

Following graduation in 1949, Urish joined his father, John N. Urish, in a purebred livestock and grain operation near Green Valley. Urish and Son became leaders in the purebred Duroc hog industry developing meatier and more productive animals, winning numerous state and national awards, and exhibiting the Champion Duroc barrow at the 1963 International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. Urish breeding stock sold throughout the United States and was exported to 25 foreign countries including Czechoslovakia, Argentina, and Thailand.

Urish served as a 4-H leader and as a member of the Tazewell County Farm Bureau Board in the 1950's. He was a charter member and first chairman of the original Tazewell County Agriculture Extension Council, serving from 1956 to 1960. Chosen as a member of the Veteran's Memorial Fair Association Board when it was first organized in 1955, he presided as President from 1956 to 1969 during the period Memorial Arena and most of the 4-H fair buildings were erected. He was named the areas Outstanding Young Farmer by the Pekin Jaycees in 1956. He served on the USDA Farmers Home Administration Committee from 1960 to 1963.

Urish was elected to the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors in 1965 and was a member for 18 years. He was elected chairman in 1969 and 1971 and assumed the chair in 1979-1980 following the death of Clarence Newlin. During this period the Board moved from the Courthouse to the new McKenzie Building, introduced voting machines, adopted a Merit System for Sheriff's Deputies, appropriated funds for training Deputies for the first time, sponsored a resolution that resulted in the formation of the County Health Department, set up County Board Districts to comply with one man, one vote legislation, continued to make the county road system one of the best in the state, amended the zoning ordinance to protect one of the county's most valuable assets, the soil, and built the Newlin Resource Center for the Handicapped. In 1971 Urish was appointed program agent in the county for the Nixon Emergency Employment Program by the U.S. Dept. of Labor and Manpower. He was appointed to the advisory committee on Urban Area Government by Gov. Ogilvie in 1969. He served on the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission from 1972 to 1980 and on the Peoria Urban Area Transportation Policy Committee. He was proud to have served his neighbors for 10 years as Supervisor of Malone Township.

An avid reader, Urish had a library of 2500 volumes, heavy on history. Interested in family history, he has traced his ancestry back to 1547 and through their settlement in Tazewell County in 1831.

In 1999 Urish wrote and in 2000 published a book, "The Education of Private Urish", relating his experiences during the World War II era. He wrote the book in memory of two high school classmates, one a sailor, another an airman, and three of his buddies from the 11th Airborne. All five died in combat before their 21st birthdays. In words etched in stone on a far off field, "When you go home, tell them of us and say 'for your tomorrow, these gave their today.'"

His private graveside service will be held Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at Green Valley Cemetery. Pastor Chris Sansom and DCE William Krueger will officiate. Military rites will be accorded by the United States Army and the Delavan American Legion. Arrangements have been entrusted to Preston Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory of Pekin.

The family would like to Thank Hopedale Medical Complex Staff, Employees, and Doctors for the loving, patient care given to Earl.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Apostolic Christian Life Points in care of Apostolic Christian Services, 2125 Veterans Road, Morton, Illinois 61550.

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