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Willard M Kerk

Willard M Kerk, 92, formerly of Chappell, Nebraska, died Thursday, June 20th on his half birthday, at Good Samaritan Village, Serenity Place in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Memorial service with military rites and inurnment of ashes will be at the Pleasant View Cemetery north of Lodgepole, Nebraska on Thursday, July 11,

2024 at 1:00pm (MST).

Willard was born on the family farm, southwest of Lodgepole on December 20, 1931, to Victoria (Jenik) and Howard Kerk. He was the second to the last of 8 children to join the family. He grew up and received his education in Lodgepole and graduated in May of 1950.

Willard completed barber school in Omaha, Nebraska and worked as a barber in Kimball, prior to joining the US Navy, serving from 1951 to 1955. He cut the hair of many naval seaman during his four years of service and if you asked him what he did during the Korean Conflict he'd say, "I fought the war of hair from behind my barber chair". His service ship was the USS Henrico.

Willard met a soda jerk at Finches Drug Store in Lodgepole by the name of Rosalee Finch and married her at the Lodgepole Methodist Church on June 19, 1955. Then Willard and Rosie settled in Sidney, Nebraska where they worked and soon had three children: Lana, Carter and Andy.

In 1961, they moved to Denver, Colorado for 3 years before deciding the big city wasn't where they wanted to raise their family. They moved to Chappell in 1963 where Willard bought his own barber shop and where he cut hair for the rest of his 66 years as a barber.

Rosie and Willard were married for 68 years, before her passing this past December.

Willard loved this country and the American flag. He was a member of the Chappell VFW, the American Legion, and served as the Deuel County Veteran's Service Officer during several of those years. He felt a strong responsibility to make sure veterans were properly honored for their service.

Willard also loved to sing. He was a charter member of the Fort Sidney Colonels (Rosie later joined too). If it was your birthday, you may have been blessed with a LOUD rendition of "Happy Birthday" by Willard.....he was still doing that this week!

He was an active member of the Chappell United Methodist Church and sang in the choir. He also served 12 years on the Chappell school board and several years on the Boy Scout Council.

He started "jogging" in the 1970's and continued his daily jogs until the last 4-5 years when his health declined. Willard ran in several fun runs, 5K's, torch runs and marathons.

Always needing to keep busy, his biggest project in the 1990's was when he tore down an old farmhouse west of Chappell and salvaged every piece, transported it to their property at Lake McConaughy, then built a two-story cabin with attached garage over the next 3-4 years himself (with Rosie's expert help).

Willard is preceded in death by his wife, his parents, brothers and sisters: Dallas, Pauline, Bernice, John, Barbara, Rosanna and Warren, and his faithful running buddies, Frosty, Pepper and Jazzy.

He is survived by his children Lana (Chris) McCoy of Grand Island NE, Dr. Carter (Colleen) Kerk, of Rapid City SD, Andy (Julie) Kerk of Pewaukee WI, 7 grandchildren Nicholas (Crystal) Frederick, Anthony (Melissa) Frederick, Dr. Josie (Jacob) Davis, Janna (Dr. Tanner) Nelson, Dr. Sam (Claire) Kerk, Jonah (Susie) Kerk, 12 great-grandchildren, and a host of extended cousins and friends.

Our sincerest thanks to all the staff at the Good Samaritan Society for their tender care of our folks these past nine years. We truly appreciate you!

Memorials are suggested to Wounded Warriors Project in Willard's memory. https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/default. aspx?tsid=10043.

Holechek-Bondegard Funeral Home is assisting the family. Online condolences may be shared on the funeral home website. http://www.bondegardfunerals.com.

WILLARD M. KERK

 

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