Jess R. Willard, age 90, passed away on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
Mr. Willard was born in Yadkin County on July 9, 1927 to William Robert and Bessie Carter Willard. He served in the US Army during WWII, including a tour of duty in Germany. During the Veteran’s Day service at Union Cross Friends Meeting this past November 12, he was presented the medals due him for his service. In addition to the medals he was recognized for excellent marksmanship on all weapons from rifles to tanks.
Upon his honorable discharge, he returned home to his beloved Union Cross community where he lived his entire life. He married Blanche Irene Beane and to this union was born Nancy Willard Johnson and Jesse Charles Willard.
Mr. Willard farmed and worked in the factory for a time, but then started his own business in the community. J.R. Willard Milling Co. served the farming needs of his neighbors, friends, and fellow church members, enjoying the relationships he had with them. His son, Charles, joined him in the business and they worked alongside each other for 15 years.
Jess was a charter member of the Fall Creek Fire Department serving his community for many years.
Union Cross Friends Church, where he was a lifetime member, was an important part of Jess’s life. His wife and children also became members and the family life, both spiritual and social, centered around the church. In later years, with the death of his wife and son, the church people were incredible in their support. His life was made so rich by the “Mill Diner Guys”. Each Thursday, men of the church, including Rev. Archie Creede and Rev. Robin Dixon, and community members gathered for breakfast at the J. R. Milling building.
In addition to his parents, Jess was preceded in death by his son, Jesse Charles Willard; three brothers and sisters-in-law: Rossie and Viola Willard, Edward and Margaret Willard, and Archie and Ena Willard. Those left to cherish his memory are daughter and son-in-law Jimmy and Nancy W. Johnson of East Bend, daughter-in-law Sherri R. Willard of Yadkinville, grandson Robert M. Johnson of Yadkinville, sisters-in-law Mary B. Frye, Nancy B. Russell, and Barbara Johnson all of East Bend, and 17 nieces and nephews.
We celebrate a life well lived. We all will sorely miss his storytelling, his knowledgeable advice, and his most gentle spirit. To God be the glory!
A funeral service will be held at 4:00 pm on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at Union Cross Friends Church. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends two hours prior to services.
Flowers are accepted or memorials may be made to Union Cross Friends Cemetery Fund, 2533 Union Cross Ch Rd, Yadkinville, NC 27055.
Huff Funeral Home of East Bend is respectfully serving the Willard family. Online condolences may be made at www.hufffuneralhome.com.