Eugene “Gene” A. Wilhelm
Eugene Aloys Wilhelm, 93, of O’Fallon, IL., formerly of Lebanon, passed away from congestive heart failure on December 5, 2019. Gene was born on April 30, 1926 in Mascoutah, IL, the second child of the late Oscar and Ottilia (nee Lanter) Wilhelm. In addition to his parents, Gene was preceded in death by three brothers, George (Frances), Vincent, and Aloys (Brother Paul) Wilhelm.
Gene grew up on the family farm in Mascoutah and worked both on the farm and at the Weyerhaeuser box factory in Belleville in his early years. In 1952, Gene married the former Rita Bechtoldt of Belleville, IL at St. Peter Cathedral, in Belleville, and began farming in rural Lebanon and started their large family. In all they reared 13 children. In 1956 due to severe drought conditions, Gene was forced to find employment elsewhere to support his family. He began construction with his brother-in-law Gerald Zimmerman of Trenton and proved to be a natural carpenter. Gene continued to work carpentry in the off-farming seasons, eventually taking over the business when Gerald retired. Later five of his sons joined the business and continue to this day. Gene’s first love, though, was working the land, and after retiring from carpentry he continued to farm well into his 70s. After retirement, Gene and Rita moved from the farm and lived their dream of building and owning their own home in Lebanon. Gene loved to garden and enjoyed woodworking. In his retirement he used his woodworking skills to make bird houses, shoe cubbies, and toys for the grandchildren to the delight of his family. Gene also loved watching TV game shows and playing games including cards, Scrabble, and working crossword puzzles. He will be remembered as a positive thinker with an optimistic attitude, and also as a person with a good sense of humor who, with a twinkle in his eyes, was cracking jokes right until the end. Gene was a lifelong Catholic and an active member at St. Joseph Parish in Lebanon for more than 60 years. He leaves a strong legacy of faith as well as a strong work ethic.
Gene’s love for his family was evident in everything he did. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Rita, as well as 13 children, David of Woodbury, MN; Thomas (Joan) of Belleville, IL; Ann Hammer of St. Louis, MO; Helen (Mike) Andersen of Union, KY; Jane Crabtree (Marc Ginsburg) of Clearwater, FL; John (Kelly) of Trenton, IL; Mary (Mike) Matteson of Lynchburg, VA; Paul (Wendy) of Trenton, IL; Robert (Jane) of Lebanon, IL; Daniel (Chris) of Bloomington, IL; Pete (Jasna) of Coppell, TX; Mark (Lanie) of Lebanon; IL; and Edward (Ericka) of Kirkwood, MO. Gene is survived by 22 grandchildren (Jeff, Erica, Vicki, Matt, Josh, Sam, Hannah, Jacob, William, Laura, Jenna, Tim, Tiffany, Katie, Nicki, Erin, Alexander, Taylor, Megan, Mackenzie, Isaac, and Owen); one step granddaughter, Jennifer Maine; and twelve great-grandchildren (Millie, Hazel, Tyler, Liam, Abram, Nora, Rowan, Marshall, Wade, Madelyn, James, and Macklin). Gene is also survived by one sister, Marie Wilhelm of Mascoutah, and three brothers, Arthur (Clara Mae) and Lawrence (Delores), both of Mascoutah, and Fr. Paul Wilhelm, OMI of Roma, TX, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.
Memorials can be made to The Colonnade Assisted Living, O’Fallon, IL or Heartland Hospice.
Visitation: Sunday, December 8, 2019 from 4:00 to 8:00 pm and Monday, December 9, 2019 from 9:00 to 10:00 A.M., at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 901 N Alton St, Lebanon, IL.
Mass of Christian Burial: Monday, December 9, 2019, 10:00 A.M., St. Joseph Catholic Church, Lebanon, IL. Clergy: Fr. Jim Dougherty, Retired
Interment: St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Lebanon, IL.
Meridith Funeral Home, Lebanon, IL.