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Born Donald LaRue Willford on September 3, 1939 to Pauline Ardelle Wray Willford married to William Dan Willford on Feb 3, 1939. Don passed away January 27th, 2024 at the age of 84 in Pomona, Kansas where he spent most of his life after moving there in 1967. Before then Don was raised in Centropolis, Ks, where he grew up, attended Appanoose Grade school and went on to Graduate Appanoose High School in 1957.
Don became a member of the United States Army in 1960 to 1962 he was a Specialist 4th class. He was a Medic in the Army while he was stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado. Don was in the National Guard Armory before and after the Army.
After leaving the Army he went back to his carpenter skills where he then met his wife of 56 years, 1 month, and 11 days, he married Letha Ellen Harmon Willford on June 16, 1967, in Miami, Ok. They had two children oldest daughter Carmen Lynn Willford Thornton, born April 28, 1969, and a son Dan Cole Willford, born October 24, 1971, both children still living. Don having three grandchildren Trevor (Willford) Morrison of Pomona the oldest of the three, Tye Cole Willford, and Marlie Jade Willford both of Ottawa, Ks. Don leaves a living younger brother Ronald Kay Willford and wife JoAnne Willford both of Belle Plaine, KS, his Uncle Jack Wray & Aunt Avis Wray of Ottawa and many living cousins. Proceeded in death by his Father William Dan Willford & Wife Pauline Ardelle Wray Willford, younger brother William Wayne Willford, Grandfather, Harvey Wray & Grandmother Goldie Smith Wray. Great Grandfather Andrew Jackson Wray & Great Grandmother Barbara Beckner Wray, & Great Grandfather Wilson B Smith (Big B) & Great Grandmother Clara Fager Smith.
Don owned Willford Construction Company most all of his life. He built homes, apartments, worked on churches all over the surrounding areas and other states. He went to work for Jack Cooper Transportation Company in the later 70’s where he drove the East Coast run for 7 years before leaving. Later he bought Overbrook Lumber Company Don and his family ran the company for 8 years before selling. Don and Letha worked their daughter Carmen in Georgia for Ace Hardware for years where they traveled and many exciting adventures. After coming off the road Don went back to some construction, odd jobs, and working on their rental properties.
In the 1970’s Don loved going to race with go-carts, his wife, daughter, brother, Ron, and wife JoAnne, where the two brothers won lots of trophies. They traveled to many tracks in Kansas and other states.
Don was very active in his community all his life. Early on his children were in 4-H, Don enjoyed speaking about his wife’s dogs that she raised and trained at local 4-H clubs. He once drove a bus full of 4-H club members to Tennessee. He then drove his kids’ horse club down to Oklahoma City to tour the Cowboy Hall of Fame, see Mr. Impressive and enjoy other horse experiences.
Don joined the McKinley Lodge #41 in Pomona on October 8, 1994; he was very active in the Masonic organization. He was also a member of the Ridgeway Lodge #62 in Overbrook, Ks, and Euclid Masonic Lodge #101, Lyndon, Ks, he attended many meetings in the Garnett Lodge, the Louisburg Lodge and many surrounding area lodges. Don was Deputy Director of the Grand Lodge, a Master Mason of his Lodge many times. Along with other members they raised money to send kids to band camp, scholarships, and for many years did the kids identification program in the surrounding schools. Don later started with the other Brother Mason’s selling food to raise money where they first started with exotic meat burgers and fries’ people would stand in line for ever to get those. Then they graduated to the funnel cake, and numerous items truck they have today where you will find them at all the local functions in the area.
Don and Letha loved to watch their daughter barrel race in the rodeo and show horses no matter what association it was. They would be in any state she was in. Don enjoyed going to Oklahoma and working with his son on housing projects and helping him with anything he needed.
Don really enjoyed hanging out with Lyle Hunt and visiting the Pomona Volunteer Fire Department to talk with friends.
Don loved his Wife, and children and he really enjoyed spending time with grandchildren Tye and Marlie. He enjoyed tinkering with projects with Tye, teaching him to read a ruler, do math, working outside on the food truck and mowing with him. Marlie loved to hang out with her Pa Pa playing on his computer and him telling her stories. Don will be missed dearly by Family and Friends.
Graveside funeral services will be held 4:00 p.m. Saturday, February 10, 2024 at Woodlawn Cemetery, Pomona, KS. Memorial contributions may be made to the McKinley Lodge #41, Pomona and sent in c/o the Lamb-Roberts-Price Funeral Home, P.O. Box 14, Ottawa, KS 66067. Condolences may be sent to the family through www.lamb-roberts.com.