Joseph Willems (1926 – 2006)

Joseph Gilbert. Willems, age 80 a resident of Racine, died Sunday morning in his sleep of cancer complications September 3, 2006 at the VA Hospital in North Chicago.

Born on April 21, 1926 in Kenosha, he was the son of the late Joseph M. and Martha (Techert of Antioch, IL) Willems.

He was educated in the schools of Kenosha.

He served in the US Navy from June of 1944 until July of 1946 on the USS Bunch 79; he was Honorably Discharged as a Seaman 1st Class.

On May 14, 1949 he married Elizabeth Ann Ludwig (daughter of the late George and Thelma (Foster) Ludwig) at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Kenosha.

He was employed by Kappus/Holsum Bread, May Beverage, and a journeyman/lather in the plastering business; additionally he was a carpenter, salesman, an apprentice toolmaker and a crane operator at Nash/ Rambler/AMC, an assembler at Simmons Bedding, and worked with his father in the family business of Willems Movers. He retired in 1985 from the Teamsters, and a Boy Scout Troup Master, Troup 23, St. Thomas Aquinas.

He and his wife, Betty, then moved to Phillips WI and ran a resort for 7 years before returning to Racine in 1995.

He was a member of the American Legion in Gurnee IL, a life member of the VFW in Somers, a member of the AFL-CIO Local 72, Local Teamsters, Boy Scouts of America, International Order of Catholic Foresters, and a member of the Building Trades Union.

He loved the outdoors and was an avid Bowler, Pool Player (Shark), Golfer, Hunter, Camper, Boater, Bird Watcher, and Fisherman! He had a love of collecting vintage cars, trains, guns, coins, stamps, and miscellaneous antiques.

He was loved and known throughout Kenosha as: ?Bud?, ?Buddy?, ?Joe Pa?, ?Papa Joe?, and the ?Silver Fox?, just to name a few. He would give the shirt off his back for anyone in need. He had a great sense of humor and would always have a good joke. He loved his family dearly and would sacrifice his time for his children to: make an ice rink in the yard during winters for his children and his personal enjoyment; fill up the car with Boy Scouts for the weekend at Camp O-Da-Ko-Da; teach his sons sport, the trades, and much more.

He is survived by his wife Betty Ann of Racine; four sons; Jay L. Willems of Kenosha, James R. Willems of Kenosha, Denis J. Willems of LA, CA, David M. Willems of Kenosha; four daughters, Jacqueline M. Willems of Racine, Debra J. Willems of Kenosha, Jean M. Willems of Kenosha, and Diane M. Willems of Racine; ten grandchildren, six great grandchildren, one brother David A. (Charlotte) Willems of Waukegan, two sisters Elizabeth A. Thompson of Kenosha, and Mary Lou Schmidt of Kenosha.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother Paul, one sister Patricia and one son in infancy.

He lived a full and enriching life to the fullest; never took stuff from any body; and, will be greatly loved and missed by his family and all who knew him.

Under his wishes there will be a Closed Casket Funeral service held on Friday, September 8, 2006 at 1:00PM at Sunset Ridge Memorial Park Chapel with full military honors.

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