Eldon Willis, 88, of Forest City passed away peacefully in his sleep October 25, 2018 at 5:00 P.M.
Visitation will be at Cataldo Schott Funeral Chapel from 5:00 -7:00 P.M. on Thursday, November 8.
Funeral Services will be held 10:30 A.M. Friday, November 9, 2018 at First United Methodist Church Forest City Iowa with Pastor Les Green officiating.
Burial will follow at Madison Township Cemetery with Military Honors performed by the Forest City American Legion Honor Guard Post #121.
Eldon, an only child, was born in Forest City to Naldy and Ada (Merrill) Willis on July 15, 1930. Eldon received his early education at Madison Township Country School #2 and graduated from Forest City High School. He was baptized and confirmed at the United Methodist Church and was a lifelong member. Eldon served his country in the Army with the 439th Engineering Battalion Communications Division in Korea. Eldon married Olina Maakestad from Leland on Sept. 2, 1950 at West Prairie Lutheran Church in rural Leland. The young couple immediately moved to the Willis farm 1 mile South of Forest City and welcomed 4 children into their lives, Mark, David, Joan and Carol.
Eldon had a passion for farming and purchased his first equipment at his father’s farm sale. He did not wish for anyone to ever say he was given anything in life. He started farming at age 15 fulltime. He bought the family farm and several more pieces of farmland and non-tillable high ground for cattle, raised row crops, had a cow calf herd and a laying hen operation. He was often called “the machine” by his young friends whom knew he loved to work long hard days. He constantly instilled in his children the value of hard work and loved to say that “working hard did not hurt us one bit.” He prided himself in planning ahead. Eldon retired from farming after 60 years at age 75. He enjoyed fishing his entire life after taking his first fishing trip north with his older cousin Duane Lakore and they continued fishing together for over 70 years in Minnesota, Canada and Alaska. Eldon and Olina enjoyed camping with their young family and purchased the very first Winnebago Camper which was built in Eldon’s corncrib alleyway by John Hanson, his neighbor Gerald Boman and 15 yr. old neighboring farm boy Ron Haugen. Olina and Eldon loved gardening. Eldon continued gardening up to 2017 and was well known for arriving in town with the back of his truck full of sweet corn, fresh garden vegetables, and fruit for his friends. Eldon started golfing at age 44 after his first heart attack and was a regular at Forest City Country Club every Thursday for many decades.
Eldon and Olina started escaping the harsh Iowa winters at age 50, bought numerous Winnebago motorhomes and spent time in Mission TX. Eldon continued his winters in TX through 2017 visiting his two daughters and grandchildren there. While at home in Forest City he enjoyed stopping by the Forest City Farmers COOP, Richardson Tire Shop and later in life his two coffee groups at Sid’s and Hardees. Eldon was involved in many clubs and civic causes. He served on the Farmers COOP Board for many years and Olina and he held caucuses at their kitchen table during election years. He always took time to mentor young people on becoming more efficient in farming and better in life. He always believed in helping his community, region and state.
Eldon was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Olina (1985), son Mark (2005), and second wife Carole Rodberg (2010).
He is survived by his children David and fiancé Bennie Gallardo; Joan and husband Steve Klein, Carol and husband Ronnie Wiese; 9 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren and two more on the way.
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