Willard Ray DeWitt, 86, of Bourbonnais, passed away peacefully Tuesday morning (Sept. 25, 2018) at his home, surrounded by his wife and three daughters.
He was born Aug. 17, 1932, in Oskaloosa, Iowa, the son of Lecil Ray and Hannah (Schneider) DeWitt.
After graduating from Olivet Nazarene College, Willard began his career in education in 1958 at Manteno School District, where he taught junior high school science. He was principal of Bradley East School in the Bradley Elementary School District for 23 years until his retirement in 1991. Willard loved to tell the stories of his years as principal, including stories of the funny things kids said and stories of heartwarming moments and interactions with his students, parents and teachers. He continued supporting education post-retirement by serving as a Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School Board member, as an adviser at the Kankakee Area Career Center and as an adjunct professor and student teacher supervisor for Olivet Nazarene University. In addition to his passion for education, he was an active member at First Church of the Nazarene in Kankakee, where he served on the church board for many years.
Willard will be remembered by his family for his tender tears and his belly laugh and for ending phone calls with each of his daughters by saying “I want you to know that Dad loves you.” He was most at peace at his lake house in Michigan, where he would make the world’s best potato salad, keep a meticulous lawn and enjoy slow boat rides after a great dinner.
Surviving are his wife of 44 years, Helen, of Bourbonnais; his children, Delaine (Neal) Logston, of Elmhurst, Jaymie (Audrey) DeWitt, of Washington, N.J., and Nicole (Brent) Gassman, of Littleton, Colo.; three grandchildren, Drew, Kyle and Mara Gassman; a sister, Lorna Wolford, of Bradley; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceding him in death were his parents; four brothers, Cleo, Roger, Gale and his twin brother, Wilbur DeWitt; a nephew, Richard Wolford Jr.; and three nieces, Suzanne DeWitt, Cindy DeWitt and Tammy Hootman.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home in Bourbonnais. There also will be a closed casket visitation from 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, until the 10 a.m. funeral service at First Church of the Nazarene in Kankakee. Interment will be in Kankakee Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Aroma Township.
Memorials may be made to Hospice of Kankakee Valley or BBCHS Academic Foundation.
Please sign his online guestbook at clancygernon.com.