Allen ‘AJ’ Whelan | Obituary

Allen “AJ” Whelan, 84, of Prairie du Rocher, died peacefully in his home on Jan. 13, 2024.

He was born to the late Albert and Anna (nee Jaenke) Whelan on Aug. 25, 1939, in Tipton.  

Allen married Freeda M. Bennett on March 21, 1959, at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Red Bud; she preceded her in death on March 7, 2018. 

Saying Allen was a hard worker was truly an understatement. He worked as a mechanic for Luhr Bros, Inc. in Columbia, where he retired (twice). He was a member of Operating Engineer Local 520 in Granite City where he had logged more hours than anyone who had ever worked in Local 520. Allen was also the dozer operator during the Flood of 1993 who broke the levy to save the town of Prairie du Rocher.

Outside of work, Allen stayed busy going to drag races, looking at old cars, camping at Marissa campground, working on the farm, listening to Ozzy Osbourne and traveling the country on his Harley Davidson motorcycle with Freeda right behind him. Allen and Freeda were known to host family get-togethers and loved being surrounded by family and friends. Family was everything to Allen. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather who was loved beyond measure. Allen’s eyes truly lit up every time he was with his grandkids and great grandkids.

He is survived by his children Keith (Tammie) Whelan of St. Mary, Mo., Deborah (Richard) Davitz of Red Bud and Chris (Karen) Whelan of Branson, Mo.; siblings Gerald Whelan of Prairie du Rocher and Nancy Kruse of Ruma; sisters-in-law Mable Whelan of  Waterloo, Shirley (Ronald) Jaenke of Red Bud, Shelia Bennett of Murphysboro and Lucille Romay Wagner of Mesa, Ariz.; grandchildren Michael, Melissa, Justin, Laura, Kourtney, Matthew, Ricky, Tyler, Nathan, Whitney and Lydia; step-grandchildren Jennifer, JoBeth and Travis; 24 great-grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife; siblings Eileen (Walter) Kelly, Jr., Cletus (Pat) Whelan, Leroy Whelan and Mildred (Oliver) Dehne; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Rosalie Whelan, Roger Kruse, Ruby Glotfelty, Peggy (Harvey) Althoff, Lloyd Romay, Glen Wagner and Roy Bennett; four nephews; and one niece.

Allen is being cremated and his ashes will be mixed with the love of his life, Freeda Mae, so they can be together eternally. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Pechacek Funeral Homes, Red Bud, is handling arrangements.

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