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William A. Luther

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
William A. Luther

OTTAWA – William A. Luther, 83, of Ottawa, died Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, at OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, surrounded by his loving family.

Born April 7, 1931, in Collinsville, he was the son of Durward B. and Thelma Mae (Laythrop) Luther. He was united in marriage to Linda Jane Murphey on Oct. 21, 1950, at Christ Episcopal Church in Collinsville.

A 1949 graduate of Collinsville High School, Bill enlisted in the Illinois National Guard in 1948, and served until 1951, when he joined the Marine Corps. He served in the Marines during the Korean War, and was discharged in 1953. He attended the University of Miami, and in 1956, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in education. He later attended, and graduated in 1964, from Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville, where he attained his master’s degree in liberal arts. He was in the first graduating class of the Edwardsville campus. He taught English at New Athens High School from 1960 to 1962. In 1962, he moved to Ottawa, and began teaching English at Streator Township High School. Throughout his years at Streator, he also taught speech and dramatics, and served as the speech team coach, drama coach, and auditorium manager, until his retirement in 1993.

Bill was a member of Epworth United Methodist Church for more than 50 years. He was an avid Chicago White Sox fan and enjoyed watching professional sports on TV. He took several trips to London with his students and toured the theaters there. He enjoyed working in his yard and playing cards with friends. His passion and love for animals didn’t go unnoticed, especially with his many canine and feline companions throughout the years. He was honored by his former students on different occasions for his love and dedication to his profession. Even after retirement, many of his former students kept in touch with him. During his career as a teacher he was never known so much as Mr. Luther, but fondly as “Pops” by many of his students. 

He is survived by his wife of almost 64 years, Linda of Ottawa; two daughters, Elizabeth (Mike Miller) Luther of Ottawa, and Nancy (Lauren) Endres of Marseilles; two sons, William Luther of Ottawa, and Thomas (Matt Claeys) Luther of Morrison; three grandchildren, Patricia Endres, Ryan Claeys, and Allison Claeys; and three special adopted great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ottawa Funeral Home, 1111 LaSalle St. The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Epworth United Methodist Church, 627 Gentleman Road, Ottawa, with Nancy Rethford, pastor, and Rich Fassig, pastor, co-officiating. Burial, with full military honors accorded by the Ottawa American Legion, will be at Oakwood Memorial Park in Ottawa.

Memorials have been established in his memory to Epworth United Methodist Church or Pet Project .

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