Willard Leum Van Wechel, 94, of Mayville, ND, died Tuesday February 28, 2023 at his home near Mayville.
Willard was born on March 11, 1928 in the state of Washington to Dagney and Aaron Van Wechel. In September of the same year, they moved to the Leum farm, east of Mayville. Willard attended school through the 8th grade. Like his brothers and sisters, Willard was very musical. He played baritone in the city band. Late in WW II, Willard and his brother Virgil went to the west coast to help the war effort and worked in a shipyard as welder’s helpers.
Willard met Avis Naas while she was attending College in Mayville. They were married in McVille, ND on June 26, 1949. Willard lived, farmed, and helped Avis raise their family on the farm. Through the years they grew oats, barley, wheat, flax, edible beans, soybeans, sunflower, corn, and sugar beets. Willard loved driving truck and hauled beets for more than 60 years. Sometime during the second half of his farming career Willard was on the board of directors for the Portland Farmers Elevator Company.
Willard and Avis loved to travel. They traveled to Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, and visited most of the states. They even drove to Alaska several times. After retirement, they started spending half of the winter in Texas and the other half at Big Sky, Montana, skiing in the mountains. Willard’s love of skiing started on the banks of the Goose River, (Goose River Ski Club) went through the slightly higher hills of Minnesota, and ended up in the Montana mountains. Just recently Willard was heard to say that he really loved skiing and wishes that he could ski again. The last time Willard strapped on the skis was in March of 2020 at the age of 92. He had skied a few days and started to feel good about how he was doing. Then covid hit and the resort closed. Always the optimist he said, “well, there’s always next year.”
Willard is survived by his sons: Lynndel, Wendel (Ruth); son-in-law: David Cleveland; grandchildren: Aaron (Tracie), Nathan (Tamara), Kyle (Kari) VanWechel, Brandon (Laura) and Vanessa Cleveland; great grandchildren: Hailey, Rilynn, Isaiah, Layla, and Ava Cleveland, Brenden, Camden, Lukas, Zachary, Keely, and Keenan Van Wechel; sisters-in-law: Carol Van Wechel, and Rosalie Naas; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Willard was preceded in death by his wife of 70 years: Avis; daughter: Vickie Cleveland; Willard’s parents; brothers: Virgil and Robert Van Wechel, sisters: Amy Lou (Donald) Johnson, and Joyce LaFleur; sister-in-law: Ieleen Naas; brothers-in-law: Lester (Harriet), Irving (Alaine), and Tracey Naas.
Blessed be the memory of Willard Van Wechel.
Visitation: Will be one hour prior to the service at the church.
Funeral Service: Will be held at 1:00 PM Saturday, March 4, 2023 at the Gran Lutheran Church in Mayville, ND.
Burial: Will be in the Gran Cemetery in Mayville, ND.