Asheville - Van Dale Willard, 82, passed peacefully from this earth with his wife by his side, holding his hand, at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at the John F. Keever Solace Center in Asheville.
Van was the son of Hubert Lemuel Willard and Bertie Craven Willard of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, both deceased. In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara Theobold Willard; his brother, Wayne Willard (wife, Lois, deceased); his sisters, Jewell Hedgecock (husband, Willie Paul, deceased) and Audrey Harrison (husband, John, deceased).
He is survived by his loving wife Barbara Briggs Willard; his daughter, Whitney Walsh Yoder and husband, Charles D. Yoder, M.D.; his son, Scott Alan Willard; his daughter, Holly Willard Kirkland and husband, Michael; his sisters, Wanda Tilley and husband, Robert (deceased), Jo Cude and husband, Don; Opal Manning and husband, Randall (deceased); his brother, Norman Willard and wife, Ada; his grandchildren, Trevor Willard, Hannah Willard, Courtney Haskins, Haley Haskins, Samuel Yoder, Briggs Yoder, Jennings Yoder, and Elia Yoder; and many loved nieces and nephews.
Van was raised in Christian faith in the Moravian church in Winston-Salem. He was later confirmed in the Lutheran faith at Living Savior Lutheran Church (WELS) in Asheville, where he is a member.
Van grew up on his parent's farm as one of 8 children, in Forsyth County, near Winston-Salem. He joined the 4-H club in high school and rose to become President of the North Carolina State chapter. During this time he raised and sold prize winning animals enabling him to financially fulfill his educational aspirations of attending and graduating from college. His work ethic, from his early years, served him well throughout his life.
He attended N. C. State University where he served in the ROTC, graduating in 1954. He served two years as a Lieutenant in the United States Army
Infantry during the Korean War
. Following his military service he worked in executive sales for Meade Paper Company, nationwide. Van was involved in many civic duties and served as Jaycee President in Orange County, California, President of The Southeastern States Graphic Arts Group and Chairmen of Salesmen Association of Paper Industry (SAPI) on the West Coast.
His retirement years were spent in the northern Beaver Lake area of Asheville. Van visited the mountains of Western North Carolina for the first time with his wife, Barbara. He fell in love with the area and enjoyed Barbara's original family home, family and surroundings in Mars Hill.
Van loved his family, he loved his roots, he loved his friends, he loved the mountains, he loved the ocean, he loved to travel, he loved a good ball game, he loved to cook, he loved to tell his military stories, and he loved a good meal and a California red wine. In reflecting Van's life, his friends and family saw strength, courage, humor, grace, kindness and fun. Even in his final days, he displayed, with dignity, all of these qualities. He was a blessing to all who knew him.
Van, our lives were, and continue to be enriched because of your presence; you are loved and will be missed so much.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at Living Savior Lutheran Church, 301 Overlook Road, Asheville, NC 28803. Officiating will be; the Rev. Caleb Kurbis, church pastor, and the Rev. Gary Baumler, emeritus. Private interment will follow with military graveside rites.
His family will be receiving visitors 30 minutes prior to the service.
In lieu of flowers, those desiring to make a memorial are encouraged to consider Living Savior Lutheran Church Building Fund.
West Funeral Home, Weaverville is in charge of arrangements.