CLINTON — Merle W. Rathje, age 82, of Clinton, died Tuesday, May 19, 2009, at Mercy Medical Center North in Clinton. Funeral services are to be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, May 22nd, at the Ascension Lutheran Church in Goose Lake. Visitation will be from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Thursday at the Pape Funeral Home in Clinton and from 9:30 a.m. until the service time Friday at the church. Burial will be in Clinton Lawn Cemetery. Casketbearers will be his grandchildren: Shawn, Jason, Ryan, Neil, Joshua, Evan, Stephanie, Brittany and Breanna Rathje.

Merle was born in Lyons, Iowa, on July 28, 1926, the son of Marvin and Henreitta Lampe Rathje. He attended Sabula schools. Merle married Vernetta A. Schroeder on October 1, 1946, in Clinton. Vernetta died on April 14, 2008. Merle and Vernetta farmed in Clinton County near Bryant until 1976. He served as sexton at Springdale Cemetery in Clinton for many years retiring in 2004. Merle was a charter member of the Ascension Lutheran Church where he had served in numerous capacities. Merle had been a 4-H leader and a member of the Andover Fire Department. He enjoyed being with his family, playing cards, gardening and the outdoors.

Merle is survived by four sons, Jerry (Terri) Rathje of Corona, CA, Glenn (Judy) Rathje of Ames, IA, Dale (Cindy) Rathje of Charlotte and David (Jane) Rathje of Miles; a daughter-in-law, Donna Rathje of Alexandria, VA; 13 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; a sister, Jeanette (Buzz) Kennedy of Holland, IN; and a brother, Larry (Nancy) Rathje of Camanche.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife and two sons, Kenny and Gary. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to be made to the Ascension Lutheran Church in Goose Lake. Online condolences may be left at

Death date: May 19, 2009

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