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Marvin Perzee

Monday, Jul 22, 2019

* As I’ve told you before, I grew up on a farm in rural Iroquois County. Every year, we’d take our animals to the county fair to show them and auction them off. The Iroquois County Fair has never really changed over the years. Going there is like stepping back in time, and I mean that in a good way. It’s wholesome, affordable and safe. Kids run around the grounds like they did back when I was young.

Marvin Perzee became a board member of the Iroquois County Fair in 1967 and was elected its chairman in 1972. He served in that role until January, when he stepped down for health reasons. You’d think after all those decades the fair would deteriorate or become an ego-driven fiefdom, but it didn’t. Mr. Perzee was one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet

A fixture of the Iroquois County Fair for more than 50 years, Marvin Perzee passed away at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana Wednesday morning.

Ironically, this year’s edition of the fair opened the same day Perzee passed. […]

A moment of silent prayer was held prior to Wednesday’s Queen Pageant, fair Board President Paul Ahlden said.

“It’s a great loss for the fair and the community as well,” Ahlden said.

The mood at the fairgrounds located north of Crescent City was somber, he said.

“He and [his wife] Sharon spent more than 50 years at this place,” Ahlden said. “As we move forward, we will honor his legacy and hard work.”

Ahlden last talked to Perzee a week ago. He already was in the hospital.

“There was every indication he was going to be part of this year’s fair,” Ahlden said. “Sharon was driving him around, and he was still doing stuff.

“We’re really going to miss him.”

I will, too. Everyone will miss him in that part of the world.

Mr. Perzee also chaired the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs for 40 years, so he knew the movers and shakers in this state and was perhaps the strongest advocate for county fairs anywhere.

* Watseka Times-Republic

“Our loss is Iroquois County’s loss,” said current fair board president Paul Ahlden.

Ahlden stepped into the fair board president in January when Perzee stepped down due to health reasons, but Perzee was still around helping in a role he had since 1972.

He said everyone at the fair wants to see the fair continue to prosper as Perzee has spent a lot of time and attention to not just Iroquois County’s fair, but he’s also worked at the state level. […]

“We lost a lifelong friend of the Iroquois County Fair, and we want to move forward in a manner to honor his accomplishments,” Ahlden said. “He’s done a fantastic job, and we want to make the Iroquois County Fair an even better place.”

* From Mr. Perzee’s obituary

Marvin was a member of many professional organizations and received several awards and honors including: In 1963, American Farmer Degree – FFA; 1963-1969, U.S. Army Reserves; 1963-1992, Iroquois County Republican Precinct Committeeman and Chairman for 14 years; 1965 to present, leader of the Ashkum Chargers 4-H Club; 1965 to present, served on the board of directors of the Iroquois County Agricultural and 4-H Fairs Association and was elected president in 1973 and then assumed the role of vice president in 2019; 1968 to present, member of Elks Club, Moose Club, American Hampshire Sheep Association and Farm Bureau; 1971-1981, member of Iroquois County Extension Youth Council; 1971, vice chairman of the American National Red Cross Fund Campaign; 1973, Outstanding Young Farmer Award recipient – Illinois Jaycees; 1974, appeared in Awards Volume of Outstanding Young Men of America; 1979 to present, member of Legislative Committee for the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs and chairman for 40 years; 1979-present, vice president of Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs Association – Northern District; 1979-1984, member of Department of Agriculture Advisory Board; 1980, recipient of the Iroquois County Extension Council Alumni award for distinguished service; 1982-1983, president of Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs Association- Northern District; 1983-1984, member of Advisory Board for Division of Fairs and Horse Racing; 1984-1989, Director of Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs; 1984, recipient of Department of Agriculture, Fairman of the Year Award; 1990-1998, appointed to the State Fair Advisory Board; 1990-1991, President of Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs; 1992-1996, Director at Large of Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs; 1999, Prairie Farmer – Master Farmer Award; 1999-2003, appointed to Attorney General Jim Ryan’s Advisory Board; 2005, Watseka Times Republic – Lifetime Achievement Award; 2006, Kankakee Daily Journal – Farm Family of the Year Award winner; 2007, inducted into the University of Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame; 2014, certificate of appreciation – OPTIONS Center for Independent Living; 2014 to present, State of Illinois Advisory Board Carnival Safety Board; and 2019, Recognition of Service to Fair Industry From Illinois House and Senate.

Visitation will be from 2 p.m. Thursday, July 25, until the 5 p.m. funeral service at the Iroquois County Fairgrounds 4-H Building, north of Crescent City. Visitation will also resume after the funeral service. The Rev. Don Gillespie will officiate. Burial will be on Friday, July 26, in Danforth Reformed Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Iroquois County Fair.

Rest in peace, Mr. Perzee. You earned it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

9 Comments
  1. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 4:40 pm:

    Very sad. But his life shows a life of service and love for community. He should be honored for that and should make us realize that there are people out there (I hate to say it because sounds trite) regardless of party just trying to make life better and help. RIP


  2. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 4:58 pm:

    I wonder who will be able to fill shoes…this big?


  3. - JoanP - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 5:03 pm:

    Wow. I don’t know when I’ve read a obit with such a long list of service. What a loss to his community.


  4. - Stones - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 5:49 pm:

    I didn’t know Mr. Perzee but I did attend the Iroquis County Fair back in the mid-late 80’s while working for Neil Hartigan. Your description of the fair was spot on. Even though I was at the fair for work purposes I always enjoyed my time. Condolences to Mr. Perzee’s family and friends.


  5. - Cable Line Beer Gardener - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 6:07 pm:

    We just finished cleaning and closing up the open building this morning. Attendance was low due to the extreme heat and humidity. Yesterday around 2 a huge storm rolled in and finally it cooled off. I enjoyed my time working there.


  6. - Rural Survivor - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 7:59 pm:

    I showed cattle in competition with you (Rich) at that fair as a 4-Her. The Iroquois County Fair is a family tradition. My daughters now show sheep and horses. The fair is probably the most family friendly of its kind. His leadership will be missed. The fair will continue but it felt very different this year. RIP Marvin! Great job!


  7. - Been There - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 10:14 pm:

    Not sure if I ever met him but sounds like he was a great man. RIP Marvin. The Buckle of the Corn Belt probably will never be the same without you.


  8. - ISUPundit - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 8:36 am:

    Marvin was a good friend and will be missed. The fair didn’t seem the same without him this week.
    He always had a smile on his face and had a great love everything agriculture and county fairs. Had many cups of coffee with him talking politics.

    You will be missed old friend.


  9. - Responsa - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 10:25 pm:

    Rich, I don’t know if you will see this so late in the day, but I wanted to thank you for your beautiful post about Marvin. He was my first cousin and everything you said about him and the Iroquois County Fair is absolutely true. As you noted, he is well known in East Central Illinois, was highly influential in farming and fair circles, was greatly respected by associates (and family) for his dedication to the things and people he cared about– and he will be sorely missed.


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