MATTOON -- Local businessman and founder of Rural King Supply stores, James “Kermit” Speer, 91, of Port Orange, Florida, passed away at 7:10 a.m. January 13, 2015 in Mattoon, Illinois.
He was born February 7, 1923 in Ellisville, Illinois, the fifth of eight children of Thomas and and Lila (Dallefeld) Speer. On May 24, 1969 he married Patricia J. McBride in Las Vegas, Nevada. She preceded him in death May 26, 1992. Kermit is survived by twenty three nieces and nephews: Mrs. Pam (John) Bates, Mr. Steve (Cathy) Speer, Mrs. Bonnie Melvin Rogers, Mrs. Joyce Staff, Mr. Gary (Theresa) Melvin, Mrs. Janet (James) Hughbanks, Mr. Jay (Pam) Melvin, Mrs. Angela (Mike) Repp, Mrs. Carol (Doug) Baily, Mrs. Marilyn (Bob) Hurt, Mr. Tom (Sara) Speer, Mrs. Amy (Steve) Ruebush, Dr. Nancy (John) Speer Engquist, Mr. Stan (Mary) Speer, Mr. Jeff (Ellen) Speer, Mr. Bruce (Joni) Speer, Mrs. Jackie (Dave) Thompson, Mrs. Jill (Steve) Bainter, Mr. Greg (Cheryl) Speer, Mrs. Peggy (Charles) Bowen, Mrs. Barbara (Clyde) Fox, Mr. Tim (Tammie) Speer, Mrs. Jennie (Ken) Robertson; two sister-in-laws, Mrs. Audrey (Creel) Speer and Mrs. Dana (Kenneth) Speer; forty five great nieces and nephews, forty seven great great nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his special lady friend, Mrs. Elisabetha Czerwonka of Mattoon, Illinois.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Eugene, Creel, Orvan, Kenneth and Dean Speer and sisters, Miss Leota Speer and Mrs. Eileen Melvin.
Mr. Speer was a proud veteran of World War II, serving in the Army in the Pacific, a member of the VFW, Elks, Moose, American Legion and 40/8, a group within the American Legion.
In his early career, Mr. Speer was a farmer in the Bushnell, Illinois area. On June 5, 1960 Kermit Speer and Keith Beaird founded Rural King Supply in Mattoon, Illinois. He was later joined in business by his nephews. The company now has eighty stores in ten states.
As an entrepreneur, businessman, farmer and benefactor, Mr. Speer was dedicated to his family, community and country. He contributed to countless projects including the Lakeland Nursing Program, the train depot in Mattoon, the Paris water park, the Mattoon Y, the USO, the Florida ELKS, the World War II Memorial, the Paris Hospital, the VFW in Bushnell and Mattoon and the Ellisville Cemetery.
Visitation for Mr. Speer in Mattoon, will be Friday, January 16, 2015 from 5-7 p.m at Schillings Funeral Home.
Visitation for Mr. Speer in Bushnell, will be Sunday, January 18, 2015 from 2-3 p.m. at the Bushnell Presbyterian Church followed by a funeral service and burial at the Bushnell Cemetery. Martin-Hollis Funeral Home is assisting the family in Bushnell.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions may be made to Sarah Bush Regional Cancer Center, the Bushnell Swimming Pool or the Bushnell-Prairie City FFA.
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