LEWISTON — John F. Rakestraw, age 98, passed away to his heavenly home on Saturday, February 25, 2012 at D’Youville Pavilion in Lewiston, ME with his family by his side. He was born July 19, 1913, the son of Freeman and Nellie Davis Rakestraw, the 12th of 13 children, in Havana, IL. He was the last member of his immediate family.

Growing up in rural Havana, he was no stranger to hard work. As a young boy, he worked with his dad working in the harvest fields with a horse and plow, also helping make props for the coal mines and ties for the rail road. He also worked on many local farms for 50 cents a day. 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 throughout the 8th grade. At about age 16, he worked for International Harvester in Canton, IL until the depression, but continued working for the area farms. In 1937 he started working for Hiram Walker and Sons Distillery in Peoria, IL.

On December 10, 1941, he was inducted into the army, serving for 4 years. He became Tech. Sergeant, head of motor pool for the hospital and received many ribbons and the Marksman Badge (expert) with a rifle. After the war, he returned to Hiram Walker until his retirement in 1977. On July 19, 1948, he married Betty Herberer, the love of his life for 62 years and they built two homes together. After retirement, he worked for Paul Roat Construction in Havana and he also raised watermelons, cantaloupes and hogs for market.

Before moving to Maine in 2005, he was a member of the Church of the Nazarene in Havana. They had many friends there and he was a devoted Christian with the love of the Lord in his heart. He was a kind and gentle man and loved everyone, his wife and family. He loved his home and enjoyed working with his wife in the yard, and flower and vegetable gardens. He also loved to go hunting and fishing with his son and enjoyed the many trips when he drove to visit his children and grandchildren in Virginia, Alabama and Maine.

He is survived by a son Charles

Rakestraw and wife

Peggy of Anniston,

AL, 3 daughters Alice

Byers of Pekin, IL, Shirlene Vorgert and husband Don of Spottswood, VA, Diana Bisson and husband Arthur of Topsham, ME, ten grandchildren Vincent, Tim, and Tom Byers, Marie Cupi, Tina Burd, John Rakestraw II, Scott Vorgert and wife Heidi, Mark Vorgert and fiancé Heather Berry, David Bisson and wife Valerie, and Melissa Estela and husband Michael, 24 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great grandchildren. He was a loving husband, dad and grandpa and will be sadly missed.

He was predeceased by his parents, 4 brothers, 8 sisters and his wife Betty Herberer Rakestraw.

Visiting hours will be held on Wednesday, February 29th from 1- 2PM at Stetson’s Funeral Home, 12 Federal St., Brunswick, ME where a funeral will follow at 2PM with the Rev. William Bailey officiating. Burial with military honors in West Bowdoin Cemetery, Bowdoin, ME will be held in the spring. A memorial service will be held in Havana, IL and will be announced at a later date.

The family would like to especially thank the nurses and CNA’s at D’Youville Pavilion on 4 West for all the special loving attention and care they gave our Dad and family during his stay. We appreciate all of you and for treating our Dad like family, with sincere and grateful hearts, thank you all so much.

Memorial donations may be made to the Havana Church of the Nazarene, 428 South Broadway Street, Havana, IL 62644. A video tribute may be viewed and memorial condolences may be expressed at stetsonsfuneralhome.com.