CHARLESTON, IL – Beryl Franklin McClerren, the only son of Frank and Alice (Cox) McClerren, was born May 30, 1929, and departed this life on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, while in the comfort of his home. He entered this world in an old Southern Illinois farmhouse six miles east of West Frankfort, Illinois. The doctor in attendance wrapped him up and pronounced, “He is dead.” His grandmother Hettie Cox, affectionally known as Little Granny, boldly declared, “That baby will live!” She picked him up and induced a breath of life. All night she held him on her tummy while he struggled for breath. The next morning Doc Lamont was much surprised to find the baby alive. Granny had saved the little boy and as a reward the family permitted her to supply a first name. She called him Beryl.
B.F. often declared that the most important events of his life were salvation and marriage. He was baptized on March 13, 1949, at the Second Baptist Church of West Frankfort, Illinois. He married Dorothy Quick on August 19, 1951, at the Baptist Church in Odin, Illinois. The marriage was blessed with four children as follows: Beryl Jr., Kilauea, Hawaii; Robert (Teodora Jamil), Beach Park, Illinois; Barbara (Dr. Jon Truchan), Valparaiso, Indiana; Jennifer (Lyle Cahill), Loves Park, Illinois.
His survivors also include five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Also, Dr. & Mrs. Garry Cook of Scottsboro, Alabama (nephew and niece) and Mr. Charles Robertson of Panama City Beach, Florida (nephew). B.F. was preceded in death by one sister, Dollie Byrum (Reverend William) of Morristown, Tennessee, and by Andrea Gail Carter of Lebanon, Indiana (granddaughter).
B.F. summarized his life as follows: farmer 10 years; pastor of Baptist Churches 17 years; teacher at Southern Illinois University, State University of New York at New Paltz, and Eastern Illinois University, for a combined teaching experience of 39 years. SIU provided the foundational preparation for his academic life which began there in 1949. Due to intervening life experiences, he did not receive his Ph.D. at SIU until 1963.
Following his establishment of an M.A. degree program in rhetoric and public address at New Paltz, New York, B.F. received an invitation to teach in the Speech/Communication Department at EIU. There he introduced and taught graduate courses: Classical Rhetoric, Philosophical Foundations of Speech, History and Criticism of Public Address, etc. One of his favorite courses was the Lincoln Senior Seminar. Some will remember him as a Lincoln Presenter. On September 18, 1994, he was Lincoln at Charleston for the reenactment of the C-Span Lincoln/Douglas Debate of 1858. Two years later Dorothy, as Mary Lincoln, joined B.F. on stage. They presented “A Visit With the Lincolns” coast to coast for over 25 years.
At Charleston B.F. also conducted a local Red, White, and Blue Seminar for eight years. Both the Seminar and Lincoln performances were ended by the Covid-19 virus restrictions.
I end my account of earthly life and continue with eternal life. Jesus is my Saviour. By repentance and faith I embraced His promise, “I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish…” John 10:28. I now pray that you also will receive Jesus as your Saviour. - B.F.
B.F.’s earthly body was laid to rest on Friday, June 18, 2021, at the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Franklin County, Illinois. A memorial service to honor and celebrate his life will be held at the McClerren home, 910 Nursery Road in Charleston, on Saturday, July 10, 2021. The gathering for family and friends will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the eulogy at 10:00 a.m. Lunch will follow and RSVP’s can be made by Saturday, July 3, 2021, by email to email@example.com or by phone to (920) 427-5432. In lieu of flowers memorials in his honor may be made to the Creation Museum and mailed in care of Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, IL 61920.
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