Some members of the Clan MacFarlane Worldwide may have met my father, Paul Monroe Funkhouser, and traveled with him and my mother, Mary, on a previous Clan MacFarlane trip to Scotland during the period 1998 – 2006. He passed away in October of 2009, but I would like to share some information about him that you may find of interest.
“We need to know where we came from in order to understand where we are going.” This was a constant theme which gave my father the incentive to study history and geography and to delve into family trees, genealogy and heraldry.
My brother, Eric, and I recall that our father spent a good portion of his free time reading, studying and searching for more details about our ancestors and other subjects that interested him.
Long before it became a popular pastime, he was researching our family history as far back as the documents would take him. The result of these efforts was a family tree chart that went back five generations and included photographs. Never one to sit still for long, he also wrote a How-To pamphlet on Coats of Arms. He enjoyed sharing what he had learned so he encouraged and helped friends, neighbors and co-workers to seek out their family histories. He created many pen and ink drawings of family Coats of Arms which he presented as gifts.
Life started for Paul Monroe Funkhouser in Rantoul, Illinois on June 30, 1917. There has always been some confusion about his date of birth. Was it the 20th or 30th of June? It was entered as 20 June, but should have been 30 June. Family legend says that the doctor and Paul’s father were celebrating the arrival of the first airplanes at Chanute field when he entered the world. This is the explanation for the birth certificate error.
Times were not easy for farmers in this part of Illinois in the 1920s, but the Funkhouser family suffered greatly with the death of Clinton Leslie Funkhouser at age 32 to typhus. This traumatic event left Elsie Opal, a widow, with four young children: Paul, Clinton, Marjorie and Wayne.
They were a close knit family and worked together to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. As the eldest, Paul grew up quickly and took on the responsibility to help his mother and younger siblings.
After graduation from high school Paul was fortunate to be able to attend Blackburn College which offered a work-study program. He had studied music and voice and was offered a scholarship to college, but could not afford the room and board expenses.
Growing up without a father to guide him, Paul learned the value of family and was close to his brothers and sister. This void may be one reason why he always made the effort to visit relatives, maintain ties and to record family histories. This regard for relatives was passed on to his own children: Sonja and Eric.
After a brief stint in college, he enlisted in the Army. During World War II he served in Iran from 1943-44. He was part of a U.S. effort to shuttle war supplies to the Russians so they could fight on the Eastern Front.
When he returned from Iran in 1944, he met the love of his life, Mary Virginia Lyons, who was renting a room from his mother. Mary and her friend from home, Helena, both worked at the Green River Ordnance Plant in Illinois, where his mother Opal also worked.
Paul and Mary were married in Chicago on May 4th 1945. They had several overseas assignments and also moved within the United States during a 27- year Army career. They shared a happy marriage for more than 55 years, until her death in February of 2001.
Paul was schooled in both Methodist and Presbyterian theology, but he felt that religion needs no roof. He studied and appreciated other religions.
Paul was very interested in the Swiss and Scottish family connections of our family. To that end he gave his time and expertise as past president of the Fankhauser-Funkhouser Swiss Family Association; past secretary-treasurer of the Scottish Society of the Ozark Region; and past vice-president for heraldry and director of publicity for the Clan MacFarlane Society. He was also a member of the Scottish National Party and the Scottish-American Military Society.
As with many people, Paul had more than one role in life. He was a husband, father, soldier, friend and mentor. His hobbies included genealogy, history, heraldry, studying gems and lapidary, playing the clarinet, singing, reading and travel, to name a few.
He was a man of many talents and one who readily extended the hand of friendship. It is our hope that he will be remembered as a kind and generous man who inspired us to study and to find answers about our ancestry and to be proud of our heritage.