Born one of five brothers to Otto and Regina Brandt in Wishek, North Dakota, Willard graduated from Wishek High School and attended college at the University of North Dakota. He served in the Army Air Corps during WWII in the South Pacific as a cryptographer. In 1947 he married his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, Erna Wiest. They were married for 61 years until her death in 2008.
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During his working life Willard was an independent businessman, owning and operating various businesses such as the Emmons County (ND) Abstract Company, a security guard company in Arizona, and a courier service in Alameda, California. He retired in 1982, and moved with Erna to Lodi in 1986.
Willard loved most sports and was an avid fisherman. He was a life member of the American Legion, and was the State Commander in North Dakota in 1958-59, ascending to National Vice Commander in 1959-60. He had many friends, loved the company of people, and was a vibrant and active participant in the lives of his family until the very last days. He touched so many people, and was a shining example of friendship and loyalty to those who had the good fortune to know him. His love of family was his greatest treasure, and the source of his strength and goodness.
He is survived by his children Karla, Wayne and Lyle and their loving spouses Rob, Alaine and Palmira. He had six grandchildren Alexis (married to Michael), Charles (engaged to Stephanie), Katherine, Stephen, Jenna and Julia. They all loved him deeply and will miss his unwavering love and affection.
A celebration of his life will be held at the clubhouse of Casa De Lodi, 812 E. Turner Rd, Lodi, CA at 12:30 pm Sunday, December 2nd. In lieu of flowers please direct any donations in Willard's memory to the Loel Community Senior Center in Lodi or the local chapter of the American Legion.
Published in Lodi News-Sentinel from Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, 2012