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LEWISTON — John F. Rakestraw, 98, died Feb. 25 at D’Youville Pavilion in Lewiston.
He was born on July 19, 1913, the twelfth of thirteen children of Freeman and Nellie Davis Rakestraw; he was the last member of his immediate family.
Rakestraw grew up in rural Havana, Ill. As a young boy he worked with his dad in the fields behind a horse and plow, also helping make props for the coal mines and ties for the railroad. As a young man he often spoke fondly of working on the Charlie Walker Farm and the George Moleman Farm using a team of white mules.
He was educated at the Walker one-room school house through eighth grade. At age 16 he went to work for International Harvester in Canton, Ill., until the Depression. In 1937 he went to work for Hiram Walker and sons Distillery in Peoria, Ill.
On Dec. 10, 1941, Rakestraw was inducted into the U.S. Army and served for four years becoming a tech sergeant, head of motor pool. He was awarded many medals including the Marksman Badge (expert) with a rifle. After the war, he returned to Hiram Walker until his retirement in 1977.
He married Betty Herberer on July 19, 1948, and they were married for 62 years.
Before moving to Maine in 2005, he was a member of the Church of the Nazarene in Havana, Ill. They had many friends there and he was a devoted Christian with the love of the Lord in his heart. His family and friends will remember him as a kind and gentle man who loved everyone, especially his wife and family. He loved his home and enjoyed working with his wife in the yard and on his flower and vegetable gardens. He also loved to go hunting and fishing with his son and enjoyed many trips driving to visit his family in Virgina, Alabama and Maine.
Rakestraw is survived by a son, Charles Rakestraw and his wife, Peggy, of Anniston, Ala.; three daughters, Alice Byers of Pekin, Ill., Shirlene Vorgert and her husband, Don, of Spottswood, Va., and Diana Bisson and her husband, Arthur, of Topsham; 10 grandchildren, Vincent, Tim and Tom Byers, Marie Cupi, Tina Burd, John Rakestraw II, Scott Vorgert and his wife, Heidi, and Mark Vorgert and his fiance, Heather Berry; 24 great-grandchildren; and five great-great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, four brothers, eight sisters and his wife, Betty Herberer Rakestraw.
The family would like to thank the nurses and CNAs at D’Youville Pavilion on 4 West for all the special loving attention and care they gave to Rakestraw during his time there.
Visiting hours were held on Feb. 29 at Stetson’s Funeral Home in Brunswick. Burial will be held in the spring in West Bowdoin Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Havana Church of the Nazarene, 428 South Broadway St., Havana, Ill. 62644.