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LAKELAND - Thomas Maxwell Willard, 78, died Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at Lakeland Regional Health Center after a brief hospitalization.
Tom was born August 30, 1937 in Beaumont, Texas to Max and Ruth Willard. He attended public school and graduated valedictorian from French High School in 1955. Tom continued his education at Lamar University, graduating with a BS in Chemistry, 1959. The day after graduation he married his true love Barbara Youngblood of Groves, Tx. They moved to New Orleans where he pursued and received his PhD in Chemistry from Tulane University, 1964.
Tom and Barbara then moved to Lakeland, Fl where they raised two children while he taught Chemistry at Florida Southern College and was the chairman of the department until his retirement.
Tom was a virtual renaissance man; played many low brass instruments in the FSC concert band, performed leading roles such as Daddy Warbucks and Johnny Brown in community theater, singer in the Lakeland Chorale, a Master Gardener, President of the Citrus Regional Blood Center for 1994 to 1996, 16 gallon blood donor and a friend to all.
Tom and his family traveled extensively as he accepted Semesters Abroad in Europe. Summers were filled with adventures worldwide. Two years ago, Tom drove across the nation visiting former students and fellow teachers as he followed Lewis and Clark's route to the northwest. Tom had just returned home from a three week visit to Europe to visit friends with his granddaughter.
Tom was a student of languages, spending summers of immersion studies in Mexico and France. Mastering German was a portion of his PhD curriculum. Tom was a home improvement enthusiast and was continually reshaping his home. Tom became a good cook, full time homemaker and caregiver for his wife Barbara after her stroke. His home office today is filled with future plans and projects.
Tom is predeceased by his parents and his wife Barbara. He is survived by his son Bill Willard and wife Susy of Auburndale, Fl; daughter Elaine Lancaster and husband Don of Black Diamond Washington; his sisters Ruth Aubey and husband Jim of Beaumont TX, Della McDonald and husband Bill of Weatherford TX. He is also survived by grandchildren Thomas Lancaster, Roger Lancaster and wife Evie, Cecile Lancaster, Lizbeth Mix and husband Mark, great grandchildren, Roan, Ariana, and Mark. His memory will be cherished by family, students, fellow teachers, and a host of friends.
Tom's Celebration of Life is August 30, 2016, his birthday. It will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship located at 3140 Troy Ave, Lakeland FL 33803. It is a gathering of friends, come anytime between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM to share stories, memories, tall tales, etc. At his direction there will be no formal service. There will be a graveside service September 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM in Anahuac TX.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests a gift to the charity of your choice or Good Shepherd Hospice, 105 Arneson Ave, Auburndale, FL 33823.

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Published in The Ledger from Aug. 27 to Aug. 28, 2016.
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