LAKELAND, Fla. – Ernest H. Grothe, 88, of Gillespie, Ill., formerly of Lakeland, Fla., and Tolono, went to be with the Lord on Feb. 1, 2015, in Lakeland, surrounded by family.
He was born Feb. 5, 1926, in Tolono, a son of Louis and Mary Ellen (Harper) Grothe. He married Peggy J. Harper on Sept. 14, 1949.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, infant daughter Cynthia, infant son Charles, five sisters and two brothers.
Surviving are two daughters, Rebecca Grothe of Niles, Mich., and Rhonda (David) Vercellino of Gillespie; a son, Matthew Sr. (Brenda) Grothe of Lakeland, Fla.; seven grandchildren, Tracy Price and Katie Slaughter of Niles, Mich., Jennifer (Dale) Lewis and Deanna Williams, both of Gillespie, Matthew Grothe Jr. of Tampa, Fla., Christopher Grothe and David Grothe, both of Lakeland, Fla.; brothers, Fred (Betty) Grothe of Urbana, Donald (Carol) Grothe of Champaign and Duyane (Ann) Grothe of Palm Coast, Fla.; several great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Upon returning to Tolono, he formed his own general contracting company, E.H. Grothe Construction, which he operated in Illinois and Florida for nearly 50 years.
He was always interested in being involved in his hometown of Tolono, serving on the Volunteer Fire Department and any activity that would improve the quality of life for the town residents.
He was a member of the Tolono Masonic Lodge 391 for 50 years. He enjoyed participating on many mission trips to South America and India building schools, churches and hospitals.
Graveside services will be at 11:30 a.m. May 2, at Bailey Memorial Cemetery, Tolono. A time of remembrance will follow at the Tolono Masonic Lodge.
Freese Funeral Home, Tolono, is helping with arrangements.
The family suggests memorials be made to Gillespie Assembly of God Church, where he was a member.