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updated: 11/19/2008 6:18 PM

Hershel Lee Gunter, 61, of Sesser died Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008, at the Franklin Hospital in Benton.

Hershel was born to the late Albert Murphy and Leona (VanHoye) Gunter Aug. 7, 1947, in Buckner, Franklin County, Illinois. He was born into a family of five brothers and two sisters:?Francis Albert and Judith Ann "Judy" (Pomroy) Gunter of Gobles, Mich., both deceased, Donald Ray and Sharlyn Kay (Offerman) Gunter of Valier, Allen Dale and Diane (Rector, Tanner) Gunter of Orient, Brenda Lou Gunter of Christopher, Garry Wayne and Dori Sue (Cowsert) of Belleville, Dennis James and Dawn Lori (Bearden) Gunter of Christopher, and Linda Sue and Samuel Barry "Barry" Wink of Mulkeytown. 

He attended grade school in Buckner and Christopher, and attended High School in Christopher. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in Aug. 28, 1967, to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and discharged Aug. 27, 1969, from Fort Bliss, Texas, near El Paso, Texas. He was in 304th Supply & Service Company. Choosing not to take R&R in Vietnam, he returned to the United States after 11 months and received a Purple Heart for receiving shrapnel in his upper leg on Dec. 18, 1968. He also received the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, Good Conduct Medal and Sharpshooter Rifle Medal.

He returned to the area and started to work in the coal mine Old Ben 21 west of Sesser until it closed, and he finished out his 31 years of being a coal miner at Zeigler 11 near Coulterville before retiring Sept. 30, 2003. 

He met his wife, Joyce Elaine Brown of Sesser, daughter of Andrew Earl and Clara Aline (Crocker) Brown, at the Maid-Rite in Christopher in October 1969. They married on June 19, 1971, at the First Methodist Church in Sesser. To this marriage they were blessed with three sons, Brian Lee and Angela Lynn (Murphy) Gunter of Sesser, Brent Andrew Murphy and Melissa Ann (Donoho) Gunter of Sesser, and Brice Taylor Gunter and fiancé  Karla Marie Duncan of Ewing. 

He was blessed with six grandsons that he loved more than life itself Lukas Brian Gunter, Elijah Eugene Gunter, Garrett Lee Gunter, Gabe Edward Gunter, Brayden Andrew Owen Gunter and Cody Raymond J. Gunter, all of Sesser.

He loved watching NASCAR races, the St. Louis Cardinals and riding motorcycles with his brothers and sisters every weekend on his105th Anniversary Edition Black Diamond Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which he received Christmas Eve 2007 as a surprise gift from his wife.  

He had a large extended family:?nieces and nephews, Heather Kay Gunter of Gobles, Mich., Sherri Dawn Gunter and daughter Shayna Renae of Benton, Jason Ray and Shauna Diane (Wingo) Gunter and children Gavin Ray and Jasclyn Nicole of Sesser, Cory Don Gunter and sons Jordan Scott and Joshua Ray of Valier, Marty Allen and Vicki Gunter and daughter Michelle Lee of Mulkeytown, Wendy Sue and Mark Anderson and children Alex Lee  and Molly of Benton, Kyle Wayne Gunter and son Ryan  of Hawaii, Kara Elizabeth Gunter and daughter Valerie Marie of  Belleville, Blake Samuel Wink and daughter MaKenna Faye of Mulkeytown, and Neiko Lee Wink of Mulkeytown; brothers and sisters-in-law and their families, Ruth Ann (Brown, Hicks) McGlasson of Waltonville, Ronald Ray and Glenna Jean (Brown) Roberson of Sesser, David Earl and Sharon Kay (Kerns) Brown of Creston, Ill., William Gale "Billy" Hicks of Sesser, Ryan Gale and Amy Sue (Morris) Hicks and children Halle Nicole and Waylon Lee of Benton, Christin Michelle Hicks and son Caedan Ryan Moss of Sesser, Jordan Lee Hicks of Sesser, Vicki Lynn (Hicks) and Bruce Alan Lewis of Valier and children William Andrew "Andy" and Anna Kathaleen "Katie" House Lewis of Benton, Wade Alan and Christina Daniel (Roberson) Lewis and daughter Skyler Lynn of Benton, Alan Dale and Kelley LeAnn (Loucks) Hicks of Sesser and their children Alyn Beth (Hicks) and Timothy James "Tim" Newbury and daughter Layla Belle of Sesser, Tiffany Chanelle Hicks and boyfriend William Eric Powell of Sesser, Sarah Elizabeth (Hicks) and Michael Andrew Alexander and son Talan Andrew of Sesser, Mahaylah Claire Hicks, Alayna Brook Hicks, Robert Ethan Coates Hicks and Dustin Lee Coates Hicks of Sesser, Patricia Ann "Tish"  (Hicks) and Robert Edward "Bob" Pinegar and children Michael Edward Pinegar and Jeana Ann Louise Pinegar and daughter Torie Aline of Dixon, Roger Earl and Sandra Dianne (Pitchford) Hicks and children Timothy John Hicks and his children Jacob Aaron Hicks and Joshua Thomas Hicks, Katie Dianne Hicks and fiancee Kyle Phillips, Isaac Lee Hicks, Grace Abigail Hicks of Sesser, Randall Rex "Randy" Roberson of Sesser, Richard Ray "Rick" Roberson of Effingham, Edward Dean "Dean" Ritchie and son Jonathon Edward of Rochelle, Crystal Gail (Brown) and Scott David Dunseth and children Owen Scott and Amelia Paige of Stillman Valley, Dustin Earl and Noelle Shelby (Schultz) Brown of Steward.

Hershel was preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Leona; grandparents, Alfred Taylor and Susie Belle (Pryor) Gunter, buried in the Mulkeytown Cemetery, and Leon and Mary (Villain) VanHoye, buried in the Harrison Cemetery in Buckner; brother and sister-in-law, Francis Albert and Judith Ann "Judy" (Pomroy), and their son, Keith, buried in Gobles, Mich. 

In May of 2007, Hershel was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer and he couldn't fight it any longer from taking over his body. He died Nov. 18 and will be at rest at the Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home in Sesser from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21. Family visitation will be at 4 p.m., and friends may call after 5 p.m. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, at the funeral home and the burial will be in Maple Hill Cemetery in Sesser.  Military rites will be performed by the Sesser American Legion and VFW Cox Post. Funeral services will be conducted by the Rev. Harold Quick of First United Methodist Church of Sesser.

The family requests that memorials donations may be made to the Southern Illinois Arthritis Foundation in honor of his grandson, Lukas, who has childhood rheumatoid arthritis, for someday they will find a cure for childhood arthritis. Envelopes will be provided at the funeral home or may be sent to Brayfield-Gilbert Funeral Home, PO Box 624, Sesser, IL 62884. There will be a dinner immediately following the funeral at Goode Township Community Building in Sesser. All family and friends are invited to attend.