Merlin “Butch” James Vonesh, 78, of Audubon, died Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, at the Mercy Hospice in Johnston.

The Mass of the Christian burial will be 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Audubon.

Celebrant will be Father Emmanuel Agwuoke.

Honorary casket bearers will be his grandchildren Chris Poulsen, Peter Poulsen, Samantha Wetter, Chance Wetter, Brooklyn Danner, Payton Danner, Kamdyn Danner and Alea Graham.

Casket bearers will be Duane Vonesh, Dale Vonesh, David Stoberl, Dennis Stoberl, Steven Johnston and Chris Danner.

Burial will be at Exira Cemetery in Exira.

The family will meet with friends at 6 p.m. with a prayer service at 7 p.m. at Kessler Funeral Home in Audubon.

Merlin “Butch” James Vonesh, son of Frank and Clara Beitz Vonesh, was born Nov. 21, 1933, at his parents’ home near Massena.

Butch was baptized and confirmed at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Massena.

He attended rural schools near the Bridgewater area and later in the Anita area and then graduated from the Audubon High School with the Class of 1951. Butch then helped operate the family farm.

On March 6, 1956, he was inducted into the U.S. Navy. During his tour of duty he served on the USS Ticonderoga.

He was honorably discharged on Nov. 21, 1957. Butch returned to the Audubon area and farmed with his father and brother Bill. He also worked as a mechanic at Faga Implement in Adair.

On March 23, 1968, he married Sharon Hansen Poulsen at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Audubon. Butch and Sharon operated several different farms in the Audubon area until he retired from farming in 2001. After he retired from farming he worked part time for West Central Co-op. in Exira during harvest season and also worked various other jobs.

Butch was a member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Audubon and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a member of American Legion Post 120, Audubon.

Butch enjoyed playing checkers and dominos. He liked going to antique-tractor shows and always liked his John Deere tractors, but most of all Butch enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. He always enjoyed people and never knew a stranger.

Survivors include his wife Sharon Vonesh of Audubon; his children Alan Poulsen of Audubon, Roger and wife Michelle Poulsen of Atlantic, Mary Maier and her significant other Dave Andersen and Barbara and husband Chris Danner all of Templeton; his grandchildren Chris Poulsen of Del Rio, Texas, Peter Poulsen of Atlantic, Samantha Wetter and her significant other Tony Faustert both of Audubon and her daughter Alea Graham of Humeston, Chance Wetter of Orange City, Brooklyn Danner, Payton Danner, and Kamdyn Danner all of Templeton; his sister Margaret Stoberl of Audubon; his sister-in-law Lynnette and husband Dan Harvey of Adel; his brother-in-law Larry Hansen of Hiawatha; and many nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.

Butch was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers Leo and wife Della Vonesh, William (Bill) and wife Lola Vonesh; and his brother-in-law Leonard Stoberl.