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Sunday, Mar. 26, 2017


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ralph Owen (R.O.) Willard died on Monday, Aug. 15, 2011, at Fort Scott Manor following a recently diagnosed illness.

He was born on Nov. 25, 1936, and was the son of Robert Olin Willard, eldest son of Ralph Oscar Willard and Mary Edith Johnson. His mother was Betty Ruth Penniman, daughter of James Brown Penniman and Kathryn Johnston Pratt. All were long-time residents of Fort Scott, and all preceded him in death.

Surviving him are his wife, Susan Ellen Hotard Willard, a native of New Orleans, a son, Barry Scott Willard of Lee's Summit, Mo., and his son, Jeffrey Scott Willard of Granite Falls, Wash., and a daughter, Holly Ariel Willard Ross and her husband Bryan and daughter Elisbeth Arrielle of Houston, Texas.

Also surviving are his sister Janice Allen and her husband H.O. (Pete) Allen of Fort Scott. Born and raised in Fort Scott, Mr. Willard is also survived by many relatives and friends.

As a youth he worked for his grandfather in the Penniman Hardware Store, as a lifeguard at the municipal pool, as a dump truck driver for the county, as a grunt for Wiseman Electric and as a Fort Scott recreation program director.

A member of the high school class of 1954, he was honored as the president of the Key Club, named outstanding football lineman as a junior, and then outstanding athlete for track and field as a senior.

He attended Kansas State University, lettering four years in track, and was a charter member of the local Delta Upsilon fraternity chapter, serving two times as president. He obtained a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and spent one year as the assistant track coach to Ward Haylett.

Following graduation he was employed by Builders, Inc., of Wichita as a property manager and in real estate sales. During the next five years he served in the Kansas National Guard and worked briefly for Service Auto Glass, Wichita, and Paul Hardeman Construction out of Steamboat Springs, Colo.

On Dec. 4, 1960, he married Carole Louise Thompson in Wichita. Their son Barry was born the following year. They were divorced in October 1965.

In 1966 he joined the Dowell Division of The Dow Chemical Co. as a chemist, was trained as a field lab supervisor and sent to New Orleans to run the lab. He would later join the regional engineering staff there and in Hattiesburg, Miss.

He spent 25 years with Dowell and its successor, Dowell Schlumberger, both oilfield service contractors. He held some 16 different positions in these companies, most interestingly as Gulf Coast regional engineering manager in New Orleans, research director in Tulsa, and marketing manager for North American stimulation services in Houston.

After his mother passed away in 1989, he initiated an early retirement and returned to Fort Scott.

During his assignment in New Orleans, he met Susan, and they were married on May 27, 1966, in Metairie, La. Their daughter Holly was born in 1968.

Mr. Willard was active in the community, serving as the president of the Fort Scott Cemetery Association, playing Bridge, writing letters to the Tribune concerning local governmental affairs and participating in any way he was able to improve Fort Scott. Among his many friends are those he met at the Mercy Cardiac Rehab facility.

Rev. Mansour Khajehpour will conduct funeral services 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, at the Konantz-Cheney Funeral Home with burial following at the Evergreen Cemetery. Visitation will be Thursday Aug. 18, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Konantz-Cheney Funeral Home.

Instead of flowers, the family would suggest donations to the Kansas State Foundation at Kansas State University, the Boy Scouts or any other organization that reflects an investment in the future of young people. Mr. Willard was an advocate of any organization that gives our youngsters an opportunity to build character and grow into responsible adults.

Memorial contributions may be left in the care of the Konantz-Cheney Funeral Home, 15 W. Wall St., P.O. Box 309, Fort Scott, Kan., 66701. Online condolences may be emailed to expressions@konantz-cheney.com.