Peterson Funeral Chapel
Franklin “Frankie” Charles Willard, 87, passed peacefully on April 1st, 2021, in Aurora, with his devoted wife, Judy, by his side.
Frankie was born November 5, 1933, to Pearl (Laney) and Delmer Willard, and raised North of Aurora, farming alongside his parents. He grew up with a love of the outdoors and nature. He was baptized, at the age of eight, in Honey Creek as a member of the Dover Baptist Church. He attended Buck Prairie School and graduated from Mt. Vernon High School.
Frankie was a veteran who served in the Army and National Guard from 1952 to 1961. He was honorably discharged after obtaining the rank of Sargent. He was deployed in Germany, as a member of the 3rd Armored Division. He was an expert bowler, collecting many awards, prior to starting a family.
Frankie married Judy (Hilton) in 1964. They were married for fifty seven years and were blessed with a son, Kalen Dean Willard, in 1965. Frankie was a humorous, caring, and kind father who taught hard work and fun by example. He loved raising his son, at the “Pot O’ Gold” farm, north of Aurora. Chores on the farm were not merely tasks to complete, but were an opportunity to spend time together and learn the life long lessons associated with self sufficiency and taking pride in a job done right.
Frankie was a lifelong farmer and rural mail carrier in Aurora for many years. He grew up quail hunting on the family farm and, later in life, looked forward to pheasant hunting trips to Kansas and Nebraska with his son and good friends. Frankie’s interests included family, working in his garden, fishing, reading western novels, watching college basketball, discussing politics with friends, and completing jigsaw puzzles.
Frankie was an expert fisherman and seemed to have a photographic memory of all the right spots on both Table Rock and Stockton lakes. He enjoyed fishing often with lifelong friends Bob Simpson and Porter Leffingwell. He was a member of the Elm Branch Christian Church. He loved to follow sports of many types, but especially basketball. Frankie and Judy attended almost every home game, as a couple, of both the men’s and women’s Drury Lady Panthers and SMS Bears, the past few years.
Frankie had an incredibly outgoing sense of humor and was doubly blessed with the gift of conversation. Frankie always had something interesting to talk about - with friends and strangers alike. Those who knew him looked forward to the “Frankie Update.”
Frankie was preceded in death by his brother, Delmer Willard, Jr, of Texas.
Frankie is survived by his son, Dean Willard (Heather Falls) of North Carolina. He was the doting and always-teasing grandfather of five grandchildren; Dalton Willard (Autumn), of Idaho, Laney Willard, of Pennsylvania, Weston Willard (Mariana), of Uruguay, Clayton Willard, of North Carolina, Quinnley Willard, of North Carolina, and one great-grandchild; Charles Franklin Willard, of Idaho. When it came to his grandchildren, he always began and ended conversations, with them, by saying, “Grandpa loves you!”
A private family graveside service, under the direction of Elm Branch Church and Peterson Funeral Chapel, will be held at Maple Park Cemetery at 10 am, Friday, April 9th. The family would like to extend special thanks to all family and friends who have expressed appreciation and support for Frankie.