Merle Prater


Merle Dean Prater, age 94, of Moravia, passed away Friday, May 6, 2022 at MercyOne Medical Center in Des Moines.

Merle was born on March 4, 1928, the son of Hallie and Gladys (Smith) Prater.  He graduated from Cowden Illinois High School. In his earlier adult years, Merle sang with the Gospel Trio.  He was united in marriage to Mattie Faye Whittington on August 26, 1948 in Louisiana. 

After getting married, Merle and Mattie moved back to Illinois, where Merle farmed and worked in oil fields.  He also preached at a church in Ramsey, Illinois during this time.  In 1956, the couple moved to Eaton, Ohio, where he also farmed and preached.  In March of 1968, the Prater family moved to their farm west of Moravia, Iowa.  Merle farmed and preached at Promise City Church of Christ for 42 years.  Concurrently, he worked at John Deere in Ottumwa, where he retired after 15 years.

Merle loved his cattle and visiting with people, especially family.  Even though he wasn’t a veteran, Merle was very passionate about the Welcome Home Soldier Monument in Albia.

Left to honor Merle’s memory are his children, Merla (Ernie) Schmell of Centerville, Philip (Tammy) Prater of Centerville, and Camilla (Tom) Williamson of Albia; seven grandchildren, Sheri (Chris) Guess, Brant (Jessica) Schmell, Jill (Seth) Fitzgerald, Robin (Shawn) Caley, Jeff (Alyssa) Prater, Cami (Michael) Manley, and Quentin (Jen) Williamson; 17 great grandchildren; as well as several extended family members; along with a good friend, Jane Sellenberg.

Merle was preceded in death by his wife, Mattie Prater; his parents, Hallie and Gladys Prater; his daughter-in-law, Sharon Prater; his brother, Malburt (Violet) Prater; and his sister, Margaret Prater.

Funeral services will be held at 11AM, Friday, May 13, 2022 at Lange Funeral Home in Moravia with Pastor Jeff Dalrymple officiating.  Burial will follow the service at Salem Cemetery, west of Moravia.  Visitation will take place Friday, May 13, 2022 at Lange Funeral Home in Moravia with the family greeting friends from 9-11AM.  Memorials have been established to the Welcome Home Soldier Monument in Albia, and may be mailed to Lange Funeral Home and Crematory, ATTN: Prater family, 1900 South 18th Street, Centerville, Iowa 52544. Condolences may be shared online at or on our funeral home Facebook page.

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