Merle Dean Nafziger, 92 of Minier, passed away Saturday, July 10, 2021 at Hopedale Nursing Home in Hopedale.
He was born October 4, 1928 in Minier to Levi and Emma Oswald Nafziger. He married Norma Birkey on November 20, 1948 in Flanagan and celebrated 72 years of marriage.
Surviving are: two sons Roger (Cindy) Nafziger and Gregg (Tina) Nafziger, both of Minier; four grandchildren, Brett (Andrea) Nafziger, Holly (Tim) Gottschalk, Loni (Matt) Steinkamp, and Blake Nafziger; eight great grandchildren; one sister Vaudrine Cooper of Minier; and one brother Donald Nafziger of Sun City, AZ.
He was preceded in death by his wife Norma Nafziger; parents; and one sister Lila Rutter.
He graduated from Hopedale Community High School and was a member of the Hopedale Mennonite Church. Merle was a dedicated farmer for 40 years and assisted on the farm for an additional 15 years. He was known for having the cleanest bean and corn fields in Tazewell County. Merle loved attending auctions and accumulated a large collection of Horse-Drawn Equipment, Antiques and Collectibles. When his collection was auctioned an estimated 500 people attended and a local TV station broadcasted a remote segment from the sale. One of the auctioneers said this was one of the rarest collections he’d seen in 50 years of auctioneering. Merle was also a member of the Hopedale Stags which was a competitive, independent basketball team that was invited to play in the inaugural game of Bradley Fieldhouse against the Bradley Braves freshman team in 1948.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date. A private family burial will be in Mennonite Cemetery in Hopedale. Davis Oswald Funeral Home in Tremont is handling the arrangements.
Memorials may be made to Hopedale Mennonite Church.
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