October 23, 1928 - April 3, 2008
Mike Willems was born Oct. 23, 1928, to Abraham and Anna (Isaac) Willems in Greensburg, Kan.
He is survived by his wife Wilma, four children Rodney (Cindy) of Morrill, Neb., Steffen (Laura) of Craig, Byron (Kim) of Craig and Sandra Chamberlain (Jeff) of Craig. He also is survived by grandchildren Dani Willems, Doug (Jennifer) Willems, Amy Jacoby, Lauren (Jason) Pickett, Heath Chamberlain, Mandy Willems, Drew Chamberlain, Brent Chamberlain, Emily Willems, Justin Willems and six great-grandchildren, and brother John (Dora) Willems of Albany Oregon.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Abraham and Anna Willems, and siblings Esther Selzer, Abe Willems, Aaron Willems and Rosie Roupp.
He attended school in Greensburg and Hesston, Kan. As a young man, he enjoyed horseback riding and raccoon hunting. He and his brother, Aaron, owned and flew an airplane often. Mike accepted Jesus Christ as his savior at a young age, and his strong faith served him well throughout his life.
Beginning in 1951, Mike served in the Army throughout the United States. Mike married Wilma (Zimmerman) on July 2,1952. After completing his military service and being honorably discharged in 1953, the couple returned to Kansas and worked the family farm. In 1958, Mike bought a new John Deere tractor. This is when his lifelong interest in John Deere tractors started.
On Feb. 24, 1955, the couple welcomed their first child Rodney. On Nov. 30, 1956, their second son Steffen was born. On Aug. 14, 1958, their third son Byron was born. All three sons were born while they lived in Kansas. On April 10, 1962, their fourth child Sandra was born once they had moved to Craig.
In 1959, after completing an auto mechanic course, the couple relocated to Gunnison. In 1960, the family moved to Glenwood Springs for better job opportunities, and shortly after that in the spring of 1961 they moved to Craig where the family has since remained. Mike went to work for the John Deere dealership owned by Leether Redman, continuing his interest in John Deere tractors.
During his years of working for Redman Sales and Service, Mike enjoyed camping, fishing, bowling, as well as his career in the John Deere business.
Mike also contributed to his sons' Boys Scout experience and became a leader of their troop. During this time in his life, he instilled his work ethic in his children, who all worked from a young age, which has been carried on to the next generation. He also spent many weekends teaching his sons how to hunt. In 1969, the family took a memorable Colorado family vacation to Mesa Verde, Royal Gorge and other Colorado sites.
In 1971, Mike and Wilma purchased the John Deere dealership from Leether Redman.
This business became a fulfillment of their longtime interest with John Deere equipment. He enjoyed many rewarding years of supplying the community with John Deere products. He let all of his customers know that they could call him anytime, and he would never hesitate to go open up the store. This willingness to help his customers served for a successful 24 years. After working many long days, he retired in 1994. In his retirement years, he continued to enjoy restoring antique John Deere tractors and participated regularly in antique tractor pulls.
Many times, Sunday afternoons were spent watching the Denver Broncos and were particularly enjoyable when they won SuperBowls. With the extra time in retirement, he dedicated his time to the Cedar Mountain Lions Club and truly loved working on many community projects. Only in his later years, when his health was failing, he no longer participated with the Lions Club. The Cedar Mountain Lions Club has yet to accept his resignation.
Mike will be remembered for his great love for his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to Cedar Mountain Lions Club, in care of Grant Mortuary.