PONTIAC - Dalmain H. “Dal” Estes, 88, of Pontiac, passed away at 10:55 a.m. Saturday (Dec. 24, 2005) at home under the care of his family and Livingston County OSF Hospice.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Mary's Church, Pontiac, with Monsignor Thomas Mack officiating. Burial will be at St. Mary's Loretto Cemetery, Loretto, with military rites accorded. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at St. Mary's Church, Pontiac, and one hour before the funeral on Thursday at Harris-Martin Burke Funeral Home, Pontiac.
Dal was born Dec. 21, 1917, in Herculaneum, Mo., the son of Margaret “Peggy” (Craig) Estes and Howard Estes. He married Mildred Metzger on May 31, 1941. She preceded him in death. They had one child, David. He married Elizabeth “Betty” Mertes on Nov. 24, 1951, in Chicago.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Betty of Pontiac; six children, David of Normal; Becky (Kenny) McComb, Ransom; Cynthia (Simmie Baer), Chicago; Melissa (Keith) Barnhart of Yorkville; Adam, Pontiac; and Elizabeth “Ebus” Estes-Cooper, San Diego, Calif.
He is also survived by three grandchildren, Jason (Rhonda) McComb, Decatur; Lizzie (Craig) Roscoe, Villa Park; Claire Barnhart, Yorkville; one great-grandchild, Grace Roscoe, Villa Park, two brother-in-laws, Don Mertes, Sterling, and Wilfred Mertes, Ransom. Also surviving is his Euchre partner and special sister-in-law, Marie Mertes of Ransom.
His first wife, Mildred and his parents preceded him in death.
Dal retired from Swift and Company, Chicago, in 1976, after 40 years, as general manager of hotels, restaurants and institutions. He then worked for the State of Illinois, Livingston County Broadcasters and Wal-Mart, Pontiac, finally retiring at the age of 77.
Dal entered the U.S. Army from Lemay, Mo., in December 1942 and served until March 1946. On D-Day, he was a sergeant with the 467th Antiaircraft Unit, Automatic Weapons Battalion, and landed in the second wave on Omaha Beach Normandy, France, participating in the largest invasion in history. Dal received a Purple Heart at Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. During the course of his military career he also earned the Combat Infantry Badge, the Silver Star and five Bronze Stars. After the Battle of the Bulge, he was commissioned into the 80th Infantry Division and was a lieutenant.
Dal was an accomplished and popular speaker with the Illinois Humanities Council and gave talks to countless school groups with his program “Private Ryan's Sergeant.” In 2004 at the age of 86, Dal founded the Livingston County War Museum and Education Center in Pontiac, to honor America's Veterans and to share their stories with future generations.
He was awarded the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award from the Illinois Humanities Council in 2002, and is a past recipient of the Pontiac Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award and Grand Marshall of the Threshermen Reunion Parade. He was a life member of the VFW, a member of the American Legion and AMVETS.
Of all the accolades and awards he received he was most proud of his family. He considered them his greatest legacy. He never missed an opportunity to tell them he loved them. He taught them to respect nature, to find the best in others and to love and support each other no matter what. He will be deeply missed.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Livingston County War Museum and Education Center, 321 North Main St., Pontiac, IL 61764 or OSF Hospice, 301 W. Washington St., Pontiac, IL 61764.