BUCKEYE, Ariz. — John Meyer Willman Jr., 74, passed away on Monday, May 6, 2019, in Buckeye, Ariz.
Celebration of Life will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, at the Platt Duetsche, 1315 W. Anna St., Grand Island. He will be missed by all that knew him. John would wish that you wore casual clothes and come share memories of him.
John Meyer Willman Jr. was born in Grand Island on July 14, 1944, to John and Esther (Meyer) Willman Sr. John attended Wasmer, Trinity Lutheran, Barr, and Grand Island Senior High School. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in business. He was a member of the Beta Sigma Psi fraternity.
John actually started working at Willman’s Grocery at North Eddy and South Locust before he started school (a penny a 10-pound bag of potatoes). After college, John returned to Grand Island to run the family business. After the tornado, John and Linda rebuilt the grocery store and added Willman’s Bottle Market. They had the bottle market for 31 years before retiring to Buckeye, Ariz., in 2015.
In 1966, John married Rebecca (Schmierer) and to this union, John Meyer Willman the 3rd and Amy Ruth were born.
In 1981, John married Linda Caudill Petzoldt and with this union two children, Brandi Ann and Travis Paul Petzoldt, arrived. Brandi’s fondest memories of John include borrowing his cars without permission, her love of his potato salad, grilled lobster and crab legs. Everybody that knows John well knew he loved his fireworks, which included m80s. He put a nice hole in the Enyearts’ yard that is talked about every 4th of July. John’s greatest joy was playing Santa for his beloved grandsons, Cooper, Jack and Tyler. Upon Travis’s passing, his best friend, Mike Muirhead, and his wife, Sunni, have continued to be a big part of our life. We are godparents to Travis, Jacob and Jax.
John loved football of any kind. He and Linda traveled to Nebraska football games for over 30 years. Then locally, the Nebraska Danger was a highlight for them. He owned several race horses with Jerry Ohlson and Jimmy Wetzel. They spent many Friday afternoons discussing with several friends at Willman’s Bottle Market. John was an avid golfer. As members of the Riverside Country Club, he won the Sandbagger’s golf tournament with Don McIntyre and enjoyed playing with many of his friends. John also loved to go to Vegas with the boys. What happened in Vegas will remain in Vegas.
John enjoyed cooking, gardening and planting flowers. His greatest joys were his dogs, Yukon, Tobie, Rudy, Buffy, Pepper, Bo and Sophie. He also loved being involved in the Nebraska State Fair as a volunteer with Ben Murphy.
John’s social clubs included the Saddle Club and his beloved Platt Duetsche. During his membership, John was a board member and actively volunteered at a lot of social events. He thoroughly enjoyed socializing while having a beverage or two with his Thursday Therapy Group.
John is survived by his loving wife, Linda; his children, John (Sally) Willman and Amy Willman of Lincoln, and Brandi Jessiman of Denver, Colo.; grandchildren, Cooper, Jack, Tyler and Kai; brothers, Jim Willman of Grand Island and his special friend, Karla Smith, Rick (Becky) Willman and niece Lindsay (Daniel) Bertrand of Woodland Park, Colo.; a great-niece, Josephina Bertrand; and special friends, Alan and Kay Enyeart of Buckeye, Ariz., Ben and Judy Murphy, Diania Graves and Billie Herron of Grand Island.
He was preceded in death by his father, John Willman Sr.; mother, Esther Willman; and son, Travis Petzoldt.