Harry Walter Koeller


Harry Walter Koeller age 99 of Quincy, Illinois, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family Sunday, January 21, 2024, in Blessing Hospital.

Harry was born June 16, 1924, in New Canton, IL, to Edward L. and Elsie F. (Ebmeier) Koeller. He married Dorothy Stolte. After 25 years of marriage, she preceded him in death. He later married Frances (Shuford) Harpole. They celebrated 51 years of marriage last June.

Harry was a dedicated public servant. Over the years, he served on many local boards and committees, including: the Sny Island Drainage Board of Commissioners for 6 years, serving as President and Secretary; the West Pike School Board for 6 years, serving terms as President and Secretary; the Pike County Extension Council for 6 years; the Pike County Farmland Assessment Committee; the Pike County Mental Health Board; Charter Member and 1st Secretary of New Canton Fire Protection District Board; he was a longtime member and Vice President of New Canton Cemetery Board; and he served on the New Canton Methodist Church Board as chairman of Finance Committee, and later merged to the Hull Larger Parish. He was a lifelong member of the Pike County Farm Bureau. He was also a 78-year member of the New Canton Masonic Lodge, later merged with Hull Lodge, he served as Master and Secretary in his early years.

Harry was a longtime member of Senator Charles Percy’s Agriculture Committee and Senator Percy sent him to inspect the old Alton Dam along with the Lockmaster. Senator Percy was the chairman of Rivers and Harbors Sub-committee which had the Bill to build a new dam, but he was holding it until he could get all the information to make the right decision. After Harry went back to Washington and gave the Senator a complete report, Senator Percy then sent the bill to the full Senate where it passed and work was started.

Harry was appointed as Legislative Representative for the Illinois Rural Electric Co., for three years where he enjoyed lobbying work part time in Washington D.C.. Harry was appointed a member of the U.S. Representative Paul Findley’s Farm Advisory Committee for almost all of Finley’s term in the House. Harry and Representative Findley worked well together especially on Rural Electric advancements.

Harry liked to travel and especially do the driving (fast). Each year he would take his family on long trips all over the United States and got to see most of the National Parks and National Monuments and all 48 states. After the loss of his first wife, he remarried and they continued traveling. Together they drove all over Alaska four different times, covering different areas each trip, once going all the way to Prudhoe Bay on the Artic Ocean. Later they flew to Kotzebue and Kodiak. To go to Alaska and back was a 10,000-mile trip and 30 days on the road. After Alaska he and Frances finished driving in all the provinces of Canada including Labrador where the ferry landing was delayed until the icebergs moved away from the docks, a one-half day delay.

One thing Harry enjoyed was his river camp on the Mississippi River. He liked boating and all the water sports. He took his youngest son to New Orleans in their 16-foot boat, taking a week. The following year they went all the way up the river to Saint Paul and above the first dam until they ran aground in shallow water. The third trip was up the Missouri River, to the end of travel at Gavins Point Dam which has no locks. It is located near Yankton, South Dakota. The most interesting part was the 60 miles between the dam and Sioux City, Iowa. This is a wild natural river and is very difficult to find enough water to get through.

Harry was an avid reader all his life and as he got older and had more time, he enjoyed reading his four daily newspapers and many magazines, that he received from friends and family. His favorite books were early American, Western Indian stories, and travel. His only kind of reading was non-fiction!

Even in his 90’s, he went to the farms several times a week to check on progress of the crops and ride in the cabs of tractors and combines (…and give instructions).

Harry considered one of the biggest events of his life was when he and Frances got to attend several events leading up to the inauguration of President Richard Nixon. At the President’s Ball they got to dance next to the President while the Guy Lombardo band was right beside them.

Survivors in addition to his wife, Frances, include: five children, Russell E. (Donna J.) Koeller of New Canton, IL, Jane (Mike) Kroencke of Hull, IL, Jim (Donna K.) Koeller of New Canton, IL, Robin (Blake) Nay of O’Fallon, MO, and Edwin (special friend Diana Dietrich) Harpole of New Canton, IL; 17 grandchildren, Bryan (Kim) Koeller, Gavin Koeller, Kris (Chevi) Koeller, Tammy (Dan) Depke, Greg (Kristy) Kroencke, Calvin Koeller, Carissa (Prestaen Medlin) Koeller, Christopher Backer, Katie (Blake) Meisner, Breane (Aaron) Schafer, Cody (Kyla) Harpole, Kaytlyn (Ethen) Baker, Jessica (Lance) Hatch, Austin (Nanette) Nay, Chester (Allison) Nay, Christian (Beckie) Nay, and William Nay. He also is survived by 36 great grandchildren; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.

In addition to his first wife, Dorothy, Harry was preceded in death by his parents, and a brother William E. Koeller and his wife Kathy; and a daughter-in-law, Danita Harpole.

Visitation: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Sunday January 28, 2024 at Hansen-Spear Funeral Home. Masonic Rites will be at 5:00 pm, provided by Hull Lodge #910 A.F. & A.M.

Services: 10:00 am Monday, January 29, 2024 at Hansen-Spear Funeral Home, with Rev. JoAnn Ruff officiating. Burial will follow in Shearer Cemetery in New Canton, IL.

Memorial donations may be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children, Vermont Street United Methodist Church, or New Canton United Methodist Church. Memorial Donations may be made online at https://memorials.hansenspear.com


Hansen-Spear Funeral Directors are in charge of the arrangements.

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