Willard Kramer

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EATON — Willard J. Kramer, 93, of Eaton, died Thursday, June 19, 2014 at Reid Hospital in Richmond, Indiana.

Willard was born on June 28, 1920, at the family farm north of Eaton, the first of ten children of Horace W. and Iva Celeste Pence Kramer. Willard lived most of his life in his beloved Preble County, with the exception of a brief period where he worked for the R. J. Pence Company as a finish carpenter in Dayton. His first passion was farming, and was a part-time farmer during his carpentry days, but returned to full-time farming after retiring from his Uncle Ralph Pence's company.

He was known throughout the county as an excellent woodworker and craftsman, and spent many years making a variety of custom-crafted wood products for friends, family, and sometimes just people who would ask him. Many of his nieces and nephews remember sitting by "Uncle Will" in his shop while he made one-of-a-kind things out of wood for them.

But all that started when Will was growing up on the family farm in the midst of the Depression, when he would make toys, kites, and gadgets for his brothers and sisters to play with during those lean times. He had an extraordinary willingness to share his skills and his possessions with others, a characteristic that he maintained throughout his life.

Will married Natalie Jean Ernsberger on Dec. 26, 1946. They lived in Dayton before moving back to Eaton in 1961. They had one son David Wayne, who lives in Atlanta, GA. Willard was a loving and devoted husband to Jean, and took his marriage vows of "in sickness and in health" seriously, tending lovingly to Jean in her later years when she was in failing health. Jean died in 2005.

In 2006, while having "Senior Coffee" at the Burger King in Eaton, Willard met Wanda Hinsley of Eaton, a friend of sister and brother-in-law Anna May and Jim Eyler. One thing led to another, and they were married. Much like Willard tended to Jean in her illness, Wanda tended to Willard after his health began to decline, taking him out on drives around the countryside daily to enrich an otherwise difficult existence at a nursing home.

Willard was the oldest of the ten children in the family. He is survived by siblings Marian Kramer Volkerding, Nancy Kramer Line, Rosalie Kramer Unger and husband Jay Unger, Carolyn Kramer Gatzek, Horace Kramer Jr (JR), and Wallace Kramer and wife Sharon Oldfather Kramer, son David W. Kramer and partner Dr. Ken Mitchell, and dozens of nieces, nephews, and cousins.

He was preceded in death by brother Stanley Kramer, brother-in-law Ray Volkerding, brother-in-law Jack Line, brother-in-law Paul Gatzek, sister and brother-in-law Anna May Kramer Eyler and Jim Eyler, sister-in-law Marian (Mary Ann) Ewing Kramer, and brother Ralph Kramer.

At Willard's request, a simple memorial service was to be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 24, at the Barnes Funeral Home, 220 East Main Street, Eaton, with Rev. Wayne Morrison officiating. The family was to receive friends at 10 a.m. at the funeral home prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, Willard wanted people to support the Lions Club and, in particular, the Lions Club Sight Programs. Donations can be made to Lions Club International Foundation, or by contacting Bob Barnes at 937-456-1111. Condolences may be sent to the family via the web site at

Funeral Home
Barnes Funeral Homes, Inc.
220 East Main Street
Eaton, OH 45320
(937) 456-1111
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Published in The Eaton Register-Herald from June 23 to June 24, 2014
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