Willard Erwin Graese of Mondovi, WI passed to his eternal home on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at the age of 84 after losing his long battle with Cancer.
Willard was born on the family farm in Kirchayn, WI on November 17, 1932, the second of four children born to Albert and Elsie (Hardt) Graese.
Willard was baptized and confirmed in his faith at David Star Lutheran Church. He attended David Star Evangelical Lutheran School. With the passing of his father he had to quit school and work outside the family farm to help take care of his mother and the family.
In Willard’s late teen years, at the age of seventeen he contracted Infantile Paralysis (Polio). He was paralyzed from the chest down, measured for an iron lung and never was expected to walk again. Due to a miracle from God he recovered with some damage to his lungs, stomach muscles and leg muscles.
A few years after his recovery Willard bought and operated two fuel delivery trucks for Tri-Par Oil Company in Cedarburg, WI.
On June 22, 1957 he was united in marriage to Ruth Baumgart at David Star Evangelical Lutheran Church. Their marriage was blessed with three children Kathryn, Roger and Randall.
In May of 1959 Willard purchased the Mileage Service Station in Mondovi, WI from Ole Evenson. Willard, Ruth and daughter Kathryn (6 months old), along with the two fuel trucks, moved from Cedarburg, WI to Mondovi. Pastor and Mrs. Hemer from Trinity Lutheran Church (now Zion) which was just across the street from the Mileage Station welcomed them with open arms to Mondovi. Willard owned and operated the Mileage station and started his own fuel route employing many high school students. Along with the station and fuel route, he sold Christmas trees for many years donating two of the biggest most beautiful trees to the church. During the 60’s, Willard joined the Mondovi Businessmen’s Association of which he became President. With the help of Don Wiseman they were instrumental in bringing a hospital to Mondovi, they implemented bicycle inspections for the children to keep them safe when riding their bikes, among many other acts helping out small town businesses. Willard enjoyed being a part of the Businessman’s pancake breakfasts to raise money for Mondovi. He also played Santa Clause during the Christmas season.
Willard later purchased rights to a trucking company which grew from one truck to a fleet of more than twenty trucks. He started hauling livestock, added seed corn for Jacques Seed Company, Prescott, WI. He hauled the seed corn from the fields at harvest time and to the seed dealers during the winter and spring. Willard also hauled hay and grain for many of the local farmers. His semi trucking took him to many states including Canada. After selling most of his trucks, he was down to one and spent the last six years hauling for Walmart on a dedicated route. In 2001 he was forced into retirement due to the deterioration of his muscles called Post-Polio Syndrome.
Willard was a loving husband and father who took great pride in his family and all of his accomplishments. He will be missed. WCFW 105.7 FM has lost a faithful, longtime listener from 5:30 am-8:00 am every morning. Willard loved the old time polkas.
A special thank you to the Mondovi Ambulance Service for taking such good care of Willard, to Mayo Hospice Care Team Members; Brenda, Amanda, Matty and Nancy who assured us we were not alone and to Pastor Paul Bittner for his special visit and words of comfort.
Willard is survived by his loving wife Ruth of almost 60 years, daughter Kathryn (Norman Bauer-Deceased), two sons Roger (at home) and Randall (Gail). He is also survived by a brother-In-law Erwin Schmidt and niece Debra (Mike Ladwig) along with many other nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Albert and Elsie Graese, parents-in-law Fred and Ann Baumgart, dear sister Betty (1-4-17), two brothers Elroy and Marvin Graese.
A memorial service celebrating Willards life will held at Zion Lutheran Church Mondovi, WI on Saturday March 11, 2017 at 12:00 Noon with Pastor Paul Woebbking officiating. A visitation will be prior to the service at 10:00 am until the Celebration of life.