Merv and his wife Pat have been married for 43 years and have lived in Effingham for 25 of those years. Pat is a retired elementary school teacher. They have one son, Matthew, who is married to Susan (Kapper) and two grandsons, Maxwell and Owen.
Merv received his Associates Degree from Lake Land Community College and his Bachelor of Science in Business from Eastern Illinois University.
Merv is a U.S. Army veteran. In July 2003, he retired from the Illinois State Police (ISP) at the rank of Lieutenant with 24 1/2 years of service. During his career with the ISP, Merv served in several positions including Special Agent with the Division of Criminal Investigation, Inspector with the Inspection and Audits Bureau out of the Director’s Office in Springfield, Commander of Patrol for a ten county district, and Investigations Commander for a 31 county area.
Prior to being elected commissioner, Merv served four years as Effingham City Mayor and four years on the Effingham City Council as the Commissioner of Health and Public Safety. Merv was also employed by Lake Land College where he taught criminal justice classes for nine years at the Kluthe Center in Effingham.
Merv is a life member of the Fraternal Order of Police and Illinois State Police Command Officers Association. He is also a member of the Illinois State Police Retired Officers Association, American Legion Post 1922, and Centenary United Methodist Church.
Commissioner Gillenwater can be reached by phone at (217) 342-5300 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.