Mr. Bernard L. (Ben) Emkes, 98, of Seymour, passed away on March 1, 2020 at 12:55 a.m. Ben was born in 1922 in Rantoul, Illinois, the son of John and Sadie (Bartell) Emkes. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul Lutheran in Gifford, Illinois. He graduated from Rantoul Township High School, attended Barry Castle Business College, Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa (where he met the love of his life, Orpha Rachuy), and graduated from the School of Commerce, University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. Ben served 3 years during World War II with the Aviation Engineers, spending 15 months in the China Burma India region helping to build temporary air strips and parts of the Ledo road leading from the country of Assam over the Himalaya mountains into China.
He retired in 1987 after working 36 years in the fertilizer industry, with nearly all of his time spent at the factory in Seymour. He started out with the local owner, the Buhner family, and then remained with the next six companies. The companies were Agrico, Mid South Chemical, Conoco, Williams Co., Top Yield Industries and Cargill. He always said “I worked for 7 great companies all with extraordinary owners and I didn’t even have to move my desk.” During this time, he served on the Board of Directors for: Buhner Fertilizer Co., Top Yield Industries, Indiana Plant Food Association; Immanuel Lutheran School and Camp Lakeview Bible Camp.
He was a Charter member of Zion Lutheran Church, having served as Chairman of Lay Ministers, Property Board and Cornerstone Committee. He also sang for many years in the Church choir. He was a member of the Lutheran Men’s Chorus since it began over 30 years ago. He served on the Zion Lutheran School Board- overseeing the start of Zion Lutheran Kindergarten, Preschool and Extended Care. After retirement Ben enjoyed many interests-gardening (especially tomatoes), woodworking, traveling to many states and foreign countries (he and Orpha especially enjoyed visiting with their extended family), camping, fishing, watching sports, and supporting Christian Education -especially Zion Lutheran School and Trinity Lutheran High School. He and his wife Orpha helped start the Apple Dumpling Oktoberfest fundraiser for Zion.
He was married almost 74 years to the former Orpha H. Rachuy of Westbrook, Minnesota who survives. Also surviving are their eight children, Dr. Bernard (Marta) Emkes, Joan (Dr. William) Whitaker, Mark (Conchi) Emkes, Sandra (Michael) Burroughs, Michael (Cindy) Emkes, Jane (Paul) Schlesinger, John Emkes and Jana (Scott) Gray; fourteen grandchildren, Cory (Samantha) Emkes, Andrew (Lisa) Whitaker, Brandon (Katy) Emkes, Jonathan (Louise) Whitaker, Joseph (Michaela) Whitaker, Allison (Chuck) Garmon, Joshua (Kelli) Emkes, Sarah (Johnny) Humphrey, Jonathan (Sarah) Emkes, David (Renee) Burroughs, Astrid (Justin) Burkhart, Tyler (Jamie) Gray, Lindsey Gray, and Anna Emkes; and 18 great grandchildren-Trevor, Addison, Ali, Caroline, Liam, Hayden, Silas, Carter, Teagan, Camden, Prexley, Rose, Frieda, Henry, Parker, Frances, Ella, and Katherine. One sister-in-law, Elffie Kopperud, survives.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two sisters, Ella and Dorothy; and two brothers, Wilbert and Francis.
Funeral services will be conducted by Voss & Sons Funeral Service at Zion Lutheran Church on Saturday, March 7, 2020 beginning at 11:00 a.m. Burial will follow at Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery with full military graveside rites conducted by VFW Post 1925, American Legion Post 89, Disabled Veterans 47, Korean and Vietnam Veterans, all of Seymour.
Family and friends may call at Voss & Sons Funeral Service on Friday, March 6, 2020, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and at Zion Lutheran Church, March 7, 2020, from 10:00 a.m. until time of service.
Please, in lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorials be written to The Lutheran Men’s Chorus, Trinity Lutheran High School, Zion Lutheran School or a charity of choice, in care of Voss & Sons Funeral Service.
Online condolences may be given on the funeral home website at www.vossfuneralservice.com.