Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012

Willard J. Birkner, 77, of Morton, died at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, at Heartland Health Care Center in Peoria.

Born July 29, 1935, in Worth Township to Edward and Lenora (Schwenk) Birkner, he married Sharon Rose Snyder on April 27, 1957, in Peoria. She preceded him in death on Feb. 7, 1998.

He also was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers; and one infant sister.

Surviving are two daughters, Michele Birkner and Melanie (Jonathan) Ellison, both of Peoria; his mother-in-law, Doris Snyder of Peoria; one brother, Edward F. (Juanita) Birkner Jr. of Washington; one sister, Isabelle “Sis” Lyons of East Peoria; and his sister-in-law, Phyllis Birkner of Washington.

He graduated from Morton High School in 1953 and served in the United States Army during the Cold War as an aerial photographer.
Birkner worked 45 years at Rocke’s Meating Haus in Morton until his retirement. Following his retirement, he continued working part time for another five years.

Cremation will be accorded. A Celebration of Life service was held Saturday at Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Morton, with visitation prior. Burial of the cremated remains was at Hirstein Cemetery in Morton, where military rites will be conducted.

Memorials may be made to Kennel Lake Sportsman’s Club, 22172 Kennel Lake Drive, Morton, IL 61550 or to the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Illinois Chapter, 606 W. Glen Ave., Peoria, IL 61614.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at