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Paul Robert Cerar

October 17, 1918 - March 24, 2009

Col. Paul Robert Cerar (US Army, Retired) of Sherman died of natural causes at 4:55 am, March 24, 2009 at the age of 90.

Paul Cerar was married in 1942 to Eileen Womack Cerar, who passed away in 1992 after 49 years of marriage. He is survived by his sons, Paul Robert Cerar, Jr. of Brother James Court, Springfield, Jeffrey Cerar (wife, Lynne) of Heathsville, Virginia, two married grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

In 1996 he married Ethel Swoik, his wife for 5 years until her death in 2001. He is survived by his stepson, William Collins (wife, Lois) of Springfield, and step-daughter Terri Marbold (husband, Henry) of Rochester, 4 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

Paul Cerar was born in Carlinville, Illinois on October 17, 1918 to Paul John and Jeanette Gassner Cerar. He was the second oldest of 12 children. He is survived by 2 brothers and 4 sisters. He helped raise his brothers and sisters as a child while his father pursued the difficult life of a coal miner. After two years at Southern Illinois University, Paul Cerar obtained an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point, from which he graduated in 1942. His 29-year military career was distinguished by awards which included the Department of the Army Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services. He was also awarded the keys to the cities of Yongsan and Seoul, Korea during his military service there from 1964-66.

After retiring from the military in 1971, Paul Cerar became Dean of Community Services at Harford Community College in Churchville, Maryland. Before his second retirement, he was named an Outstanding Educator in America. Moving to Sherman in 1978, he became a Samaritan at St. John’s Hospital and Prairie Heart Institute in Springfield, at which he served until 2008. He has been a generous supporter of Brother James Court, a residential campus for developmentally disabled men in need of intermediate care, operated by the Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross.

A member of St. John Vianney parish of Sherman, Paul Cerar was a lifelong member of the Roman Catholic Church. He was devoted to his faith, and was honored by Pope Paul VI, who presented him the award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1968. He founded the Perpetual Adoration Society at St. John Vianney, and served there as Eucharistic Minister, Lay Reader, and choir member, and in other capacities. He also served on the Board of the Villa Retirement Center of Sherman for over 20 years.

He will be remembered as devoted patriarch of his family, a faithful Catholic and friend to clergy everywhere he lived, and as a distinguished military officer, who lived by the motto of the Military Academy at West Point, Duty, Honor, Country.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26 at Staab Funeral Home, with a prayer service at 4:30 p.m. A lie-in-state will be held 9-10 a.m. Friday, March 27 at St. John Vianney in Sherman with the Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. with Monsignor Carl Kemme presiding.

Burial will be at 1 pm, Friday, March 26, at Calvary Cemetery in Carlinville, Illinois.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be given to Brother James Court, 2508 St. James St., Springfield, IL 62707, or St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Sherman.

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