Walter J. Pape of Marion, Illinois died at 11:15 am on October 4, 2017. He was born on January 13, 1926 on the family farm, the son of William and Martha (Wohlwend) Pape, and has lived his entire life in Marion. He graduated from Marion High School in 1943 and married Kathleen (Kay) Coleman in 1949, and they shared nearly sixty years together before she passed away in 2009. Walter and Kay had two sons—James, born in 1952 and John, born in 1955.
Walter served in the army during the Korean War where he was a member of the Military Police and received awards for outstanding marksmanship. He returned to Marion after the war to help on the family farm south of town, which has now been in the family for 122 years. Walter continued to farm for his entire life and was still passing on farming tips to his grandsons just days before his death. He was trained as a carpenter and worked with various companies before he eventually founded Walter Pape Construction Company in the late 1960s. He was known for the quality of his work on new homes as well as on extensive remodeling projects. Many of the buildings he built are still solidly standing. In the late eighties, he became the Marion City Building Inspector and served in that capacity until his retirement.
Walter was a life-time member of Zion United Church of Christ, and he served that congregation in many capacities, including as a board president, for several years. He grew up in the church, was confirmed, married, raised his children, and regularly attended the church his whole life. When Walter was born, the services at Zion were still conducted in German, and as a descendant of one of the founding families of the church he worked to provide an ongoing foundation for the congregation. He deeply loved the church and was beloved as one of the patriarchs of the congregation.
Walter was also active in the Illinois South Conference of the United Church of Christ, serving in various capacities, most notably in support of the Illinois South Conference DuBois Center in DuBois, Illinois. He worked tirelessly as a volunteer at the DuBois Center and greatly enjoyed attending activities there, particularly the fall festival.
Being a leader was very important to Walter, and he was also very active in the community. He served as a Board Member and then President of the Williamson County Fair. He helped organize and was a charter member of the local Racking Horse Association. Early in his career he was a member of the Carpenter’s Local and served as an officer in that organization. He was also active as a Boy Scout leader when his son, Jim, was a scout.
Walter is survived by his son John, who lives in Topsfield, MA with his husband, Alan Seale. John is the Director of Opera Studies at The Boston Conservatory. Walter was predeceased by his son, Jim in 2016. He is also survived by his daughter-in-law of 47 years, Deborah Jenkins Pape of Marion. Walter had 20 direct descendants including his sons, his grandson David, wife Trinka, and great-grandchildren Joshua, Rebecca, and Aaron; grandson Nathaniel, and great-grandchildren Grace and Joseph; grandson Kaleb, wife Amber, and great-grandchildren Judah, Mary, Rivers, Emet, and Eben; and granddaughter Kate, and great-grandchildren Ben, Jake, Gregory Adam, and Sam.
Visitation will be at Mitchell-Hughes Funeral Home in Marion on Friday, October 6 from 5:00-8:00 pm and at Zion Church from 1:00-2:00pm on Saturday, October 7. Walter’s life will be celebrated at Zion Church at 2:00 pm, with the Rev. John Holst officiating. Burial will follow in Egyptian Memorial Gardens. The church is located at 930 W. Cherry in Marion. Military rites will be presented by members of the Marion V.F.W. Post #1301, American Legion Post #147 and National Guard Flag Detail Unit. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Walter and Kay Pape Scholarship Fund at Zion United Church of Christ. Established after Kay’s death in 2009, the scholarship has been awarded annually to a deserving student entering college. Memorial contribution cards will be available at Mitchell-Hughes and the church during the visitation and funeral.