Walter Dale Lembke, of Urbana, passed away peacefully on December 17th at home. Walt was born on December 26, 1926 in Joliet, Illinois to Albert Lembke and Frances Storey Lembke. He married Donna Jean Christiansen on June 13, 1954 in Manhattan, Illinois. She preceeded him in death in 1988 after the celebration of 34 years of marriage. They were active members of the First Presbyterian Church in Urbana. Walt married Nina Maynard on May 27, 1989. They enjoyed 31 years of marriage. She lovingly cared for him at home after he was placed on hospice in 2014 and with her care and that of the staff of All Ways Caring he lived another 6 years. Walt and Nina were active members of St John's Lutheran Church in Champaign.
Walter graduated from the University of Illinois in Agricultural Engineering with a B.S. in 1951 and a M.S. in 1952. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War as an electronics officer on a destroyer. After his release from active duty in 1955 he joined the Agricultural Engineering faculty of Purdue University as an instructor of soil and water courses. He began work on a PhD and he received that degree in 1961 with research in the flow of water in steep drain tiles. Walter joined the faculty of South Dakota State University to teach and conduct research on drainage of irrigated lands. He joined the faculty of the University of Illinois as an associate professor in 1968, became full professor in 1974, and worked in that capacity until his retirement in 1987. He led the teaching, research, and extension efforts of the soil and water division from 1973 to 1983 and carried on research in both drainage and irrigation. He spent a semester teaching at the University of Bogor in Bogor, Indonesia through the MUCIA/AID program in 1975. Since retirement he continued to remain active, teaching a course in 1994 and has assisted in drainage projects including University land and that of private owners and drainage districts.
Ag Engineering was always his passion, and he shared it with his family during summer trips to Ag Engineering conferences around the country. These trips gave his children lifetime memories of camping and exploring and usually included an excursion to view various irrigation systems!
Walter is survived by his wife Nina Lembke, sons Mark Lembke (Kate Willard) of Chelsea, VT; and Dale (Lynette) Lembke of Parker, CO; daughter Kristin Blanchard (Mike) of Sidney, IL; grandchildren Erik Lembke (Mika Gudmundson) of Haines, AK; David Lembke of Arcata, CA; Carissa (J.) Demuth of Littleton, CO; Jeremiah Lembke of Parker, CO; Angela (Andrew) Clemens of Santa Barbara, CA; Sean (Tomi) Blanchard of Sidney, IL; Danielle (Quan) Mitchell of Apex, NC; Cody Blanchard of Sidney, IL; and 7 great-grandchildren.
Please make memorials to St. John Lutheran Church in Champaign IL. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Renner Wikoff Chapel & Crematory, 1900 S. Philo Rd., Urbana is handling arrangements. Condolences may be offered at www.renner-wikoffchapel.com
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