1941 - 2016

Merle Gene Woods, 74, of Pekin, passed away at 2:27 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, at UnityPoint Health-Methodist in Peoria.

He was born Nov. 8, 1941, in Freeport to Walter and Louella Herbig Woods. He married Linda I. Anderson Nov. 21, 1975, in Michigan City, Ind. They made their home in Quad Cities, Iowa, for 30 years, moving to Pekin in 2006.

He is survived by this wife; two sons and four daughters, Brian (Lonnette) Woods of San Diego, Calif., Brad Woods of Oklahoma City, Okla., Christina Stone of Athens, Ga., Sheri Cole of Charlotte, N.C., Michelle (Brian) Stearns of Merriam, Kan., Barbara Ann (Stu) Peterson of Marion, Iowa, and Mark Keppy of Chicago, who was always like a son; twelve grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren; and two sisters, Betty Westendorf of Oelwein, Iowa, and Norma Ohl of Orange City, Fla. He also leaves his mother-in-law, Edyth Weeks; his sister-in-law, Virginia (Dale) Ernsberger of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; brother-in-law, Earl (MaryAnn) Weeks of Daytona Beach, Fla.; and two sisters-in-law, Jan (Mark) Stevens of Klawock, Alaska, and JoLynn More of Daytona Beach, Fla.

He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers and three sisters.

Merle’s career was in sales and marketing and he had been working for the last 10 years employed by Advantage Sales & Marketing, a national sales and marketing agency based in California. He previously worked for Scotts Company/Miracle-Gro Company for 12 years.

Merle loved people and had a wonderful smile. He had a huge personality and flashy blue eyes. Merle was the family comedian with a caring and gentle heart. He had a love for life, fun, dancing and family.

Following his laryngectomy and recovery in 1994, he dedicated himself to leading more than a 1,000 school assemblies and classroom talks to caution America’s youth on the effects of smoking through the Quad Cities Anti-Smoking Coalition. He became the mentor to other laryngectomy patients, offering support, encouragement and hope. In 2006, he was honored with the Community Award by the American Cancer Society in Davenport, Iowa, for his efforts.

A celebration of life memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, at First United Presbyterian Church in Pekin. The Revs. Penny Frame and David Taylor will officiate. Family will receive friends at a luncheon reception following the service at the church.

Cremation has been accorded by Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory in Pekin.

Memorial contributions may be made to his family.

To offer condolences online, visit www.preston-hanley.com.