Bob Willadsen

Bob R. Willadsen, 86, of Storm Lake, passed away on March 13, 2017 in Mesa, Ariz.

Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, at Fratzke & Jensen Funeral Home in Storm Lake. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 12, at Lakeside Presbyterian Church in Storm Lake, with Pastor Chuck Valenti-Hein officiating. Burial will take place at Storm Lake Cemetery. 

Better known in his younger years as “Bobby,” or “Scooter,” Bob was born in Newell, to Jay and Dora (Thompson) Willadsen on Oct. 3, 1930.

Bob graduated from Storm Lake High in 1948 and Buena Vista College in 1952. Sports were an integral part of his youth as he competed in football, basketball and track. His high school teammates described him as, “speedster of the squad,” and “the spark plug of the team.” His prowess on the football field at Buena Vista earned him recognition as a First Team Iowa Conference selection in 1951, the only unanimous choice of the coaches, and also Honorable Mention, Little All American. For many years, he held the state high school record for the 100-yard dash. Bob was inducted into the BV Hall of Fame in 1972.

Following college, Bob served in the US Army during the Korean War from 1952-1954. He earned the rank of sergeant and received the National Defense Service and Good Conduct medals.

While working as a Territory Sales Manager for North American Mfg. and residing in Fremont, Calif., Bob met his future bride, Marjorie A. (Luther). They were married on June 17, 1967, in Fremont. They had two wonderful children, Jennifer and Jay, who have filled their hearts with pride and joy and given them five very special grandchildren.

Bob moved his family to Storm Lake in 1974, and worked for Noble Manufacturing Company in their implement sales division. When Noble closed, he worked for a brief time with the Iowa Lottery before accepting a sales position with John Day Company until his retirement. He was active in Elks Club, Lakeside Presbyterian Church, BV Club & Lake Creek Country Club.

A favorite place to be in the springtime was along the left field fence of the softball games where he cheered for Marge’s BVU teams. He never missed a home game and was her most loyal supporter. He treated her players like members of his own family and always had a smile or encouraging word for each one.

Family was the most important element in Bob’s life. Daughter Jennifer, and son, Jay blessed him with five grandchildren who became the light of his life. He cherished spending time with them and especially loved taking them out for a spin around the lake on his pontoon boat, watching them in their sports’ activities and hearing about their educational endeavors. His new and most endeared nickname became “Grandpa Bob.”

Spending time discussing the Beavers or Hawkeyes games with friends at the former “Sportsman” store each morning, was a popular pastime of Bob’s. He also enjoyed golfing, fishing, boating and vacationing in the Cayman Islands. After retirement, he served as a volunteer football coach for Buena Vista University and was particularly proud when the student-athletes called him “coach.”

Eight years ago, Bob and Marge began spending winters in Mesa, Ariz. with fellow Storm Lakers. This past fall, they decided to sell their Storm Lake home and move to Mesa full-time. They had recently purchased a home and had moved in two weeks prior to his passing. Bob enjoyed spending those last few days with his children and wife and appreciated the many visits by close friends.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Jay and Dora Willadsen; and his sister, Blanche Twogood. He is survived by his wife, Marge (Luther) Willadsen; daughter, Jennifer (Willadsen) Hoff, son-in-law, Dale, grandchildren: Hailey, Kylie and Tegan, of Hermantown, Minn.; and son, Jay Willadsen, daughter-in-law, Kristy (Kemper), and grandchildren, Conner and Cooper of Hopkinton, Mass.

John Wooden once said: “The most important thing in the world is family and love,” and, “it is not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.” The motto under Bob’s name in his senior yearbook said: “It is better to be small and shine than great and cast a dark shadow.” These quotes reflect Bob’s character and the way he lived his life as a husband, dad, grandpa and friend.

The family wishes to thank all of you who chose to share your friendship with Bob. He always had a smile and a kind word for you. We have appreciated your comfort and prayers through this difficult time. Please join us for lunch following the service and stop to say hello and share your memories with us.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be given to the Bob Willadsen Endowed Football Fund at Buena Vista University or Lakeside Presbyterian Church of Storm Lake.