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Bernard "Ben" Wankum, age 89, of St. Elizabeth, passed away Friday, December 31, 2010, at his home. He was born in St. Elizabeth on June 7, 1921, son of the late Frank and Myrtle (Clark) Wankum. On November 19, 1952, in St. Elizabeth, he married Nettie Mary Bax, who preceded him in death on February 15, 2002. Bernard was a self-employed carpenter and was involved in many local construction projects, both commercial and residential. He later farmed in the St. Elizabeth area. He served in the United States Army in the 2nd Armored Division "Hell on Wheels" 41st Armored Infantry. He arrived overseas on April 13, 1943, in Oran North Africa. During his tour overseas there were seven campaigns, in which he fought six. He received the bronze star for his service during the Invasion of Sicily, landed on Omaha Beach D + 3, and received the Belgian Forragere for being one of the first troops to enter Belgium. He was enlisted in the Army for three years, two months, and 21 days. During this time in service he served on three continents and in 10 countries. He was a member of St. Joseph's Men's Sodality and of St. Lawrence Catholic Church in St. Elizabeth. He is survived by one son, Frank Wankum of St. Elizabeth; and one sister, Irene Dickneite of St. Elizabeth. He was also preceded in death by two infant brothers, Lawrence and William Wankum; one sister, Rose Puskar; and one brother, Henry Wankum. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. today, Tuesday, January 4, at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in St. Elizabeth. Rev. Daniel Lueckenotte will officiate. Interment with military honors will be in St. Lawrence Cemetery in St. Elizabeth. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Ben Wankum Memorial Fund. Arrangements are under the direction of Fancher-Rekus Funeral Home in St. Elizabeth. Condolences may be shared with the family at www.fancher-rekusfuneral homes.com.
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