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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-From taking in foster children to signing up to serve in the military, City Utilities Employees Credit Union Board Member Merl Wilhelm has made a life of volunteering. Wilhelm has been involved in the $44.5 million credit union since 1959 and spent 20 years previously on the credit committee. “I just ate it up from the very beginning,” he said. Of all the volunteering he has done, Wilhelm said, “Probably the most rewarding is the volunteering with the credit union.” His term is up in April and said he is not sure if he’ll return. “I’m to a point where I can’t change too much,” Wilhelm admits. That is good for the people who benefit from his generosity with his time and energy. Not long after he began working with City Utilities Employees Credit Union, Wilhelm married. His wife, a nurse, has brought him in to play Santa for the young patients at the doctor’s offices and hospital wards. He even sports a real beard for the season, which is key to a good Santa, he said. “Come Jan. 31, I cut it all off,” Wilhelm explained. “I don’t change anything and I just have a good time,” he said. Wilhelm added, “I just enjoy doing anything for anyone who needs it.” And he has helped some of the nation’s neediest. He and his wife took in foster children from 1960 through 1975. At one time, the Wilhelms had seven children living with them. One still comes by and calls them Mom and Dad. “We mastered it, we enjoyed it, and we felt we did some good,” Wilhelm said of the experience. From 1961 to 1998, Wilhelm umpired little league baseball. This typically included three to four games every Saturday from first graders to 16-year-old boys. “Not to brag about myself, but I thought I was pretty good,” he said. Wilhelm came from a family of 14 boys and one girl and holds the record for most men serving from one family: eight served during World War II at the same time. This Wilhelm volunteered for the military and served all of his time in North Africa during peace time. [email protected]

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