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Merritt William Sprague

December 20, 1933 October 4, 2014
Merritt William Sprague
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Obituary for Merritt William Sprague

Mr. Merritt William Sprague, 80, of rural Hull, Illinois, passed away at 12:30 a.m. Saturday, October 4, 2014, at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. He was born December 20, 1933, in Quincy, Illinois, to John W. & Ella L. (Long) Sprague. They preceded him in death. He married Patricia Ann Paxton on July 3, 1955, in Pittsfield, Illinois. She survives in rural Hull. He is also survived by 2 sons - Marvin Kent "Mark" Sprague, wife Lisa, of New Canton and Merritt Andrew Sprague of Barry; 2 granddaughters - AnnaMarie Hanes, husband Jason of Decatur and Dr. Mallory Perrine, husband Adam of New Canton; 1 grandson Marine Lt. Jeffrey Neese, wife Kelsi of Hull and 1 great grandson Paxton Kent Hanes of Decatur. Also surviving are 1 brother John Kent Sprague, wife Margaret of Madison, Connecticut; 2 nephews James & Paul Sprague and 1 niece Cynthia Dreier. He was preceded in death by 1 son Philip Randall (Randy) Sprague. (Note: spelling is correct on Philip). Merritt was a graduate of Hannibal High School at age 16 and a graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in Agriculture Science. He was a member of FarmHouse Fraternity. After college, Merritt served in the United States Army, achieving the rank of Captain, the start of life long leadership in public service. Upon his return to the family farm in 1956, he served as Company Commander of the Quincy Army Reserve Unit. Merritt had a passion for promoting agriculture within his community. He served as 4-H leader for many years. He served as a member of the Pike County Farm Service Board, was Vice Chairman of the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee, and also Vice Chairman of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee. He also served on the Pike County Mental Health Board, was an active member of the Hull Lions Club, and was a lifelong member of the United Baptist Church of Hull/Kinderhook, in which he not only taught many Sunday School classes but also served as Deacon. In 1969, Merritt was appointed by US Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz to the Chairmanship of the Illinois State Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service Committee. After 25 years of active farming, Merritt was called upon to serve his nation by the United States Secretary of Agriculture John Block during the Reagan Administration. During that time, Merritt served as Deputy Administrator for Commodity Operations, responsible for programs such as the direct distribution of cheese through the government surplus program. He was then called upon to become the manager of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, which was a Presidential appointment by President Ronald Reagan. Merritt testified in front of the US Congress routinely during his tenure in Washington where he proved to be an eloquent advocate for American Agriculture. During the President George H. W. Bush Administration, Merritt served as the Deputy Director of Office of Program Analysis for the US Department of Interior. After his service to his country, and upon the untimely death of his son Randy, Merritt returned home to resume management of the family farm. During this time he served as Chairman of the Mid-America Port Authority where he worked tirelessly to promote the development of an intermodal port terminal in the Quincy area, which is ongoing today. Merritt had a unique ability to connect and communicate with people of all ages and backgrounds. He had a way of making people feel that they were the most important person in the room. Visitation will be from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. Friday, October 10, 2014, at the United Baptist Church of Kinderhook, Kinderhook, Illinois. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, October 11, 2014, at the United Baptist Church of Kinderhook, Kinderhook, Illinois. Burial will be in Kinderhook Cemetery, Kinderhook, Illinois. Memorials are suggested to Community Foundation of the Quincy Area or the United Baptist Church of Hull/Kinderhook.

Service:

Saturday October 11, 2014at 10:00 a.m.

United Baptist Church of Kinderhook, Kinderhook, IL.



Visitation:

Friday October 10, 2014 from 4:00 until 7:00 p.m.

United Baptist Church of Kinderhook, Kinderhook, IL.

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