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Ernie Willard, a devoted husband, loving father, and dedicated church and community member, was born on June 15th, 1941, in Goodland, Kansas. He spent his early years in the nurturing embrace of his parents, Lila and Squire (Nick) Willard, while living on his maternal grandparents' wheat farm in Goodland, Kansas. During World War II, Ernie's father, Squire, played a vital role in supporting his country by farming the land, and later, he was sent to the Philippines to conclude the Pacific Theater's operations. Ernie was a warm hearted and affectionate elder brother to his sisters, Patty Jo (Patricia Josephine) and Mona (Ramona Ann). At the age of 16, the Willard family relocated to Seattle, Washington, where both of his parents were employed with Boeing. It was in Seattle that he attended Shoreline High School and met his first love, Lisa (Lois) Jolly, who would later become his wife. After graduating from high school, Ernie enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base near Fort Walton Beach, Florida. There, he married his sweetheart, Lisa, and they welcomed their first child, Todd, into the world. The young couple eventually returned to Seattle, and their family grew with the additions of a daughter, Tracy, and another son, Steven. Ernie pursued a career in IT, initially with IBM and later with Puget Sound Energy. Ernie was known for his exceptional kindness, generosity, and his cheerful, easy-going personality. He was a warm, kind, affectionate father who always made time for his children. His love for dogs led to the addition of an Irish Setter puppy to the family. Later, despite their marriage ending in divorce, Ernie continued to spend quality time with his children, taking them on memorable camping, skiing and mountain adventures, and trips to museums, parks, and the Ballard Locks, fostering in each of them a lifelong love for the outdoors and of learning. Ernie had a diverse range of interests, including all kinds of animals, mechanical engineering, science, photography, and trains. Around 1991, he experienced a profound transformation when he reconnected with his Christian roots at his sister Mona’s church. From that moment, Ernie fully committed himself to glorifying Christ and living a life of obedience. His hunger for the scriptures and involvement in church fellowship was profound, and his devotion to his family grew stronger. Around 1995, he met Keli, and their deep connection led to marriage. They exchanged vows in 2000 and embarked on a shared journey filled with adventure, a deep appreciation for their Christian walk, and their enjoyment of the great outdoors in the Pacific Northwest. Together they enthusiastically enjoyed camping, and outdoor adventures. Ernie and Keli continued to share their faith journey, attending church together as a cornerstone of their relationship. Their enduring love and commitment was a testament to their bond. Ernie's Christian faith played a central role in his life, and he dedicated his time to volunteering at church regularly. He had a special affinity for working with toddlers, cherishing the moments when they began to discover their individuality. Additionally, he volunteered with veterans' groups, offering his assistance wherever it was needed. Ernie Willard will be remembered not only for his profound impact on his family, church and community but also for his enduring spirit of kindness, love for adventure, and profound faith in Christ Jesus. His legacy lives on in the memories of those he touched and inspired throughout his remarkable life.
A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 at 1:00 P.M. at the Greenwood Cemetery, Palouse, WA with the United States Air Force Honor Guard and Potlatch Post #10300 VFW participating.
A celebration of life will be held on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, 11:00 A.M. at the Real Life Ministries, 1860 N. Cecil Road, Post Falls, ID 83854.
Kramer Funeral Home, Palouse, WA is caring for the family. On line condolences may be left at www.kramercares.com