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Merton D. Messmore peacefully passed away with family at Friendship Manor, Rock Island, on July 31, 2019.
Merton was born on July 29, 1926 in Geneseo, to Dr. Harry L., Sr. and Ella Messmore, the fifth of eight children He graduated from Altona, IL H.S. in 1944 and immediately began military service in the Navy in WWII, serving as a radioman on LST 672 in the Pacific Theatre.
Upon discharge from the Navy in 1946, Merton attended Monmouth College, graduating in 1951. He married Mary Ruth Speer in 1950. She preceded him in passing in 2015. He was also preceded in passing by his mother in 1938, infant son, Mick in 1956, his father in 1977, step-mother, four brothers, three sisters, three step-siblings, a great-granddaughter and great-grandson .
Merton began his career as a teacher and coach in 1951 at Farmington IL H.S. and continued at Oneida, IL, R.O.V.A. H.S. until 1964 when he changed careers to become an insurance agent for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. In 1968, he returned to his love of coaching and teaching at Auburn H.S. Merton later earned his Masters Degree from Sangamon State University, Springfield, IL (now University of IL – Springfield). He then became principal at Auburn H.S. and retired in 1988.
Upon retirement, Merton and Mary Ruth relocated to Altona, IL, Rock Island, then Destin, FL for 9 years until 2006. They then returned to the Quad Cities and remained there for their remaining years. Mert was an avid fan of St. Louis Cardinals baseball and the University of Illinois athletics. He also greatly enjoyed fishing, reading (particularly history) and, most of all, spending time with family and friends.
Merton is survived by his five children and their spouses: Stanlee (Char), Lake Carroll, IL, Jack (Marsha), Springfield, IL, Joel (Diane), Rochester, IL, Lisa (Dan) Wood, Rock Island and Alyson, Rock Island. He is also survived by 16 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, August 24 at DeRoo Funeral Home, Moline, with visitation from 10 a.m. until the time of funeral services at 12 p.m. at the funeral home. Private family burial will follow alongside his wife, Mary Ruth at the Rock Island National Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, Down Syndrome Society or the American Cancer Society.