Dick Willard worked with machine tools, then machine quilting


Dick Willard (1939-2023)

Richard E. Willard, 83, of Rockton, IL, a lifelong Stateline resident, was born on July 6, 1939, in Janesville, Wisconsin, the son of Harold and Dorothy (née Peterson) Willard. Dick attended public school and graduated from Beloit Memorial High School before enlisting the U.S. Navy. Shortly after his time in the Navy, Dick met and fell in love with the love of his life, Jacqueline M. Upchurch (née Dooley) and her children, daughter Geri Kay and son William John. They married and made a family on October 22, 1966. A couple of years later they completed their family with the arrival of son Richard Raymond. 

Dick died March 19, 2023 at Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, IL. 

Services will be held Saturday, April 1, 2023 at McCorkle Funeral Home, 767 N. Blackhawk Blvd., Rockton, IL. Visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. until the funeral at 11 a.m. Pastor Dan Herman will be officiating and military honors will be accorded.

Dick chose to work in the machine tool industry for the bulk of his career. He began as a machinist. After just a few years Dick, being a natural born salesman, was given the southeastern United States as his sales territory. He continued to work in sales until the late 1980’s when he became a consultant for companies all across the United States. He spent a great deal of time working for Boeing Aerospace in Seattle until he semi-retired. 

During post retirement, Dick discovered he needed something to keep himself busy. When the family opened a quilt shop, it came as a wonderful surprise that Dick took to long-arm machine quilting. He became known for his beautiful work. It was during the quilt shop days that Dick began a part time position with Dollar General - a job that lasted almost 22 years! Dick made lifelong friends throughout his entire working career. 

Dick’s interests and hobbies included woodworking, fishing, gambling, golfing and bowling. He loved watching football, boxing and hockey on TV. His favorite teams were the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Blackhawks. And more than any other place on earth, Dick loved the beach. He loved spending time at the beach on the shores of North and South Carolina. 

His family says, "There was nothing Dick wouldn’t do for his family! Dick adored his wife, Jackie! He called her his Queen! We... will always remember the depth of his love. Dick was a wonderful, loving and generous father and an awesome grandpa and great grandpa. His legacy is his family."

Dick is survived by his wife Jackie, his three children, Geri (Gerald) Cook, William (Dorothee) Upchurch, Richard (Nicole) Willard; seven grandchildren, Joseph (Jessica) Metz, Daniel (Brittany) Metz, Amber Upchurch, Megan (Zach) Willard, Katherine (Brent) Cook, Malery Willard, and Morgan Willard; seven great grandchildren, Samantha, Reagan, Lauren, Colin, Ryan, Carver, and Blake; his sister Shirley Hanna, his brother Dan (Jackie) Willard, his sister-in-law Kathleen Hulburt; six nieces, Liz, Debby, Jennifer, Keri, Courtney, Annissa, and one nephew Michael. 

Dick is predeceased by his father Harold Willard, his mother Dorothy Willard, his brother-in-law James Hanna, and his grandson Jonathan W. Upchurch.

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