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Bill Plater


MARION -- Bill Travis “Cactus Pete” Plater, 86, passed away nine days short of his 87th birthday at 10:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in Marion VA Medical Center.

He was born Aug. 10, 1927, in Vienna. He was the son of William Garrett and Ruby K. (Travis) Plater.

He married Susan K. (Payne) McGill on Dec. 28, 1991, in Anna. She survives of Marion.

He was a U.S. Navy Veteran of World War II and served in the Army Counter Intelligence Corp during the Korean Conflict.

He was a graduate of SIU Carbondale. Following graduation, he worked for the St. Louis Globe Democrat as writer and staff artist.

He was one of the original staff of WSIL TV when it went on the air in 1953. He was art director for the station and two years later became the on air character “Cactus Pete.” He hosted that show for 16 years and also played “Ruffles the Clown” and “The Cartoon Man” and was emcee of the afternoon variety program “Studio Show.”

Leaving TV, he established Plater Printing Harrisburg and ran the business for 18 years. Following this, he and his wife established Graphics Galore, a sign and trophy shop in Marion, which they operated for eight years. In semi-retirement, he and his wife originated a promotional product business “The Idea Shop” on the internet and in Marion. In his spare time he enjoyed reading different newspapers, drawing, painting, gardening and yard work.

Survivors include his wife, Susan K. Plater of Marion; daughter, Darci Plater of Belleville; son, William Kelly Plater of Harrisburg; stepdaughter, Cynthia Ward and husband, Darren, of New Berlin; stepson, Bryan McGill and wife, Melinda of Benton; four stepgrandchildren, Jacob Norris of Benton, Murphy, Lenox and Rogan Ward of New Berlin; sister, Mary Ann Chenoweth and husband, George, of Anna; brother-in-law, Philip Payne and wife, Rosemary of Macedonia; niece, Kathy Hefele of Houston, Texas; and cousin, Wanda Slack of Vienna.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Memorial services will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5, in Blue Funeral Home, with the Rev. Dave McReynolds and Mark Fisher co-officiating. Visitation will be from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. Military rites will be performed at the funeral home by the Herrin VFW and American Legion Posts with assistance from the Illinois National Guard.

Memorials may be made to the American Lung Association and will be accepted at Blue Funeral Home, 1704 N. Court St., Marion, IL 62959.

For more information or to sign the memorial guest register, visit

the life of: Bill 'Cactus Pete' Plater
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