Earl Ray Wisely, 89, Rochester, Indiana, died at 1:45 P.M. on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, at Hickory Creek, Rochester. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Phyllis (Merchant), Rochester, Indiana, his son, Mark Wisely, Westfield, Indiana, grandchildren, J.D. Showley (Morgan), Rochester, Indiana, Katie Wisely, Westfield, Indiana, Haley Wisely, Fort Collins, Colorado, and great grandchildren, Ireland and Scarlett Showley, Rochester, Indiana. He is also survived by his brother, Jo (Kitty) Wisely, Oakdale, Illinois, sisters, Dolly Fuqua, Oakdale, Illinois, Joycelyn Kasten, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and step sons, Timothy (Erin) Merchant, Warsaw, Indiana and their children, Raegan and Mackenzie, and Brian (Christina) Merchant, Columbia, Maryland. He was preceded in death by his son David in 1985, his parents Ray and Waltena (Reuter) Wisely and siblings Lester, Charles, Nadine, Rhoma and Jackie.
Earl was born in Oakdale, Illinois on September 26, 1929, and from a very young age he helped on the family farm. He had a remarkable memory and told lots of stories of riding his horse to bring lunch to those working the fields, raising a big garden, helping out friends and neighbors, and saving metal for wartime scrap drives. He graduated from Oakdale High School and spent 4 years in the Navy Seabees during the Korean War on Guam and building at that time the largest airstrip in the Philippines. One of his fondest memories was chauffeuring General Dwight D. Eisenhower on his visit to the Philippines to see what his battalion had accomplished on the island. His knowledge of farming and heavy equipment led him to a job with Gehl farm equipment. He was one of their best salesmen for 30 years, with many awards and friendships. He then had a successful career with First Federal Savings Bank in Rochester. Throughout his life his friends and customers sought his opinion. He had a unique way of looking at the world, always willing to give someone a helping hand or a second chance. Often people thanked him for the help or advice he offered that put them on a better path in life. He was pleased to be part of the beginnings for Habitat for Humanity, raising money for the first three homes and helping to clear the land. But his greatest joy was to finally live and work on his farm west of Rochester. He cleared and improved the land and turned it into a productive farm using the most natural methods available. He enjoyed this life and loved his blended family. He knew and loved his Lord and was a good steward of the land God gave him to tend.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Monday, February 25, 2019, at Zimmerman Bros. Funeral Home, Rochester, Indiana with Pastor Theda McBryde officiating. Visitation will be on Sunday, February 24, 2019 from 2:00-4:00 P.M. at the funeral home and one hour prior to the service on Monday. Burial will follow at Odd Fellows Cemetery, Rochester, Indiana where military graveside services will be provided by Fulton County Veteran’s Honor Guard. Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Presbyterian Church or Habitat for Humanity. Online condolences may be expressed at www.zimmermanbrosfh.com
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