DECATUR -- Neil E. Pistorius, 95, passed away peacefully at home on March 14, 2016.
A service to celebrate his life will be held on Monday, March 28, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. at Zion Chapel United Methodist Church in Boody, Illinois. Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Homes, Decatur, are assisting the family.
Neil was born at home December 3, 1920, to Roy V. and Edna Gaskins Pistorius near Blue Mound, Illinois.
He attended the University of Illinois where he played clarinet in the Marching Illini from 1938 until 1942 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After basic training, he entered the civil engineering program at MIT in Boston, MA, in 1943. These credits earned him a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois. This is when Neil met his wife, U.S. Marine Sergeant Helen Mary Wetz. In 1944, Neil joined the 78th Infantry Division as a 1st Sergeant and was assigned to company K of the third battalion of the 311th infantry regiment to serve as a frontline soldier in Europe during World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, Battle of the Bulge, the Battle of Bridgehead, and the Battle of the Ruhr Pocket. After 119 days on the front line, Neil was awarded a Purple Heart with three clusters, the Bronze Star with one cluster, and additional citations. The award Neil was most proud of and honored to receive was his Combat Infantry Badge.
Upon his return from the war, Neil began farming, first by himself, and then in partnership with his brother, James. His farming career spanned 50 years and in 1987 he was recognized by the Prairie Farmer as a Master Farmer for his agricultural conservation techniques of ridge-till farming.
Neil’s life was one of service to his community. From 1962 to 2002 he served as a board member on the Shelby Electric Cooperative Board including serving as its President for several years. He also served as board member and President of the East Central Illinois Farm Business Management Association. Neil also served as a Director on the Macon County Farm Bureau. Beginning in 1975 and for the following 16 years, Neil served as an elected representative on the Richland Community College Board chairing the Board from 1980 to 1982. His leadership helped establish an agricultural curriculum and move the college from a downtown warehouse to its permanent campus. Following this, he served for 6 years on the Richland Community College Foundation Board.
Neil and his wife, Helen, were instrumental in promoting the American Field Service (AFS) foreign exchange program in their local high school (Blue Mound). They hosted an exchange student, Hanna Stenquist Kapadia, from Denmark. Their oldest daughter, Kaye, spent a year in Germany as part of the AFS Program.
Neil was a lifetime member of Zion Chapel United Methodist Church of Boody, IL. He served in many church offices, sang in the choir for over 70 years and was remembered as the High School class Sunday School teacher for multiple generations of teenagers.
His survivors include his daughters: Kaye (Albert) Winterbauer, Chesterfield, MO, Nancy Pistorius, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Marie (Jim) Kelley, Mount Olive, NC, and Danish daughter, Hanna (Hormaz) Kapadia, Stockholm, Sweden; step-son, Scott Kemmerer, Tamms, IL; step-daughters-in-law, Jeri Kemmerer, Monterey, CA, and Debbie Kemmerer, Springfield, IL; grandchildren, Neil (Liz) Winterbauer, Hinesburg, VT, Kristi (Jay) Joyner, Mount Olive, NC, Paul (Candace) Winterbauer, Webster Groves, MO, Erin (Cody) Drake, Charlotte, NC; step-grand-children, Charlene Kemmerer, Nick Kemmerer, and Matthew Kemmerer; five great-grandchildren; and sister-in-law, Jean Pistorius of Decatur, IL, nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his parents; brother, James A. Pistorius, and sister, Joyce P. Zapf, his wife of 49 years, Helen W. Pistorius, his second wife of 18 years, Eleanor K. Pistorius; his step-sons, Allen Kemmerer and David Kemmerer.
The family would like to express their appreciation for his special caregiver, Lisa May, and the staff at Keystone Gardens, whose care allowed Neil to spend his final days at home.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Richland Community College Foundation for the Neil E. and Helen W. Pistorius Scholarship Endowment, One College Park, Decatur, IL, 62521 or Zion Chapel United Methodist Church, Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 11, Boody, IL, 62514.
Condolences may be left to the family in care of Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Home at brintlingerandearl.com.
Obituary written by family members.