Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of great change around him, Willard Minnis was an extraordinary man to know and love. He enjoyed being outdoors doing things like farming, hunting, and fishing, and in Willard’s book his handshake was his word. A loving family man, he was blessed to share the majority of his life with his true companion, their love story spanning 57 years. Someone who was content in whatever life brought, Willard liked things simple and was laid back, too. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that his loved ones will forever cherish.
The year 1941 is often remembered as the year that our nation was viciously attacked on our naval base in Pearl Harbor. The following day, on December 8th, America entered into the fight for the preservation of our freedoms as we engaged in WWII. It was just prior to this historic day that Robert and Cleo (Homan) Minnis were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as the promise of spring appeared on the horizon in Fulton, Michigan, in late February of 1941. His father worked for Post Cereal and was also a farmer while his mother was a busy homemaker who also sold Avon products.
The third of four children, Willard was a young boy of his generation. A typically active boy, he was raised in the family home in Fulton alongside his older brothers, Robert and Ronald, and his younger brother, Norman. Willard was a student at local schools and went on to graduate from Vicksburg High School in 1959. Shortly after graduating, big changes were in store for Willard. He was called to serve his country in the National Guard. Willard was sent to Ft. Leonard, Missouri, for six months.
Not to be forgotten during Willard’s school years was his introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Lois, and they met when he was in the ninth grade while she was in the seventh grade at the time. The attraction between them was almost immediate, and they dated while in high school. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Willard and Lois were married in August of 1960 at Zion Lutheran Church in Kalamazoo. Together they welcomed four children including Willard H., LouAnn, LeAnn, and Lori into their hearts and home.
Throughout his life Willard was known for his strong work ethic. He spent a short time working at Lee Paper in Vicksburg, but he then found work at Lakeside Refining in Kalamazoo where he remained for a number of years. Willard changed jobs one more time when he began working for Kellogg’s, which is where he continued working until retiring in 1996.
Over the years Willard was a man of many interests. A dog lover, they always had a dog around including his favorite dog, Matty. For 12 years they wintered in Florida, and they also had a travel trailer that they took out West to Colorado many times. An avid hunter and fisherman, Willard enjoyed fishing trips to Canada. He liked farming, and they had pigs, cows, and chickens. When it came to foods, he didn’t really have a favorite as Willard enjoyed it all. However, as his family and friends can attest, he was partial to desserts. Every Sunday he went to LouAnn’s house for breakfast, and then later went to his brother Norman’s house. Willard took a few trips with his Amish friends, and when relaxing at home he enjoyed watching Westerns on television.
All who knew Willard Minnis would agree that there was no one quite like him. He was a bit old school when it came to how he did things, and as a result he was not into computers. Social and outgoing, Willard could tell an amazing story, and his zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Willard Minnis, of Fulton, passed away on May 16, 2018, at the age of 77. Willard’s family includes his wife of 57 years, Lois; his children: Willard Herbert (Cathy Bunce) Minnis, LouAnn (Forester) Prater; LeAnn Prater and Lori Grinage; six grandchildren: Sara, Brian, TJ, Amanda, Brady and Heather; 15 great grandchildren; his brother Norman (Lois) and his sister in law Phyllis as well as several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers Robert and Ronald and his grandson Matthew. Willard served his country proudly in the National Guard.
The family will recieve friends on Friday from 4 to 8pm at the McCowen & Secord Family Funeral Home, Rupert-Durham Chapel, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). The funeral will be on Saturday at 10am at the funeral home with a burial at South Fulton Cemetery.
Please visit Willard’s memory page at www.mccowensecord.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign his memory book online. Memorial donations can be made to the Wakeshma Community Church or the Humane Society of Kalamazoo.