Shirley Ann Willard
January 24, 1932 - July 18, 2022
Shirley Ann Epperson Willard, age 90, of Aurora, Missouri, passed away at 2:45 a.m. on Monday, July 18, 2022, at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. She was born January 24, 1932, in Marshall, Missouri, daughter of Julius Virgil Epperson and Ruby Pearl Walker Epperson.
Shirley was a 1949 graduate of Aurora High School, and after high school she briefly attended St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing in Springfield, Missouri. She left school to marry Wilbur Claude Willard from Marionville on December 26, 1950, in Carroll County, Arkansas. She lived in Aurora with her parents during the time Wilbur served in Korea. On his return they moved to Ellington Air Force base in Texas. She lived in Pasadena, Texas until 1962 when the family returned to Aurora, Missouri. Shirley and Wilbur were blessed with six children and fifty years of marriage. Shirley was a devout Catholic and a member of Holy Trinity Church. She was a member of Beta Sigma Phi for many years and currently belonged to Missouri Gamma Gamma Master Chapter.
Shirley’s lifelong focus was family. She had one sister but was born into a large family that besides her parents included grandparents, many aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides of the family. As a mother she created the same environment for her own children. She loved being around babies and small children and having large multigenerational family gatherings on holidays and birthdays. She enjoyed going to the lake, swimming, sailing, golfing, dancing, traveling, reading, and sewing and crafting. Shirley was a talented seamstress, quilter, and crocheter. She collected thimbles, antique toy sewing machines, and things related to sewing. Later in life she worked parttime at Modern Variety in Aurora and volunteered at the elementary school and with the Aurora Friends of the Library.
Shirley is survived by three daughters, Regina Leitle and husband Paul, Penny Stranz and husband Ed, and Julie Fairchild and husband Kevin; two sons, Don Willard and wife Ava, and Richard Willard and wife Debbie; six grandchildren, Tony Johnson and his wife Brit, Anna Harris and her husband Joe, Mary Daniel and her husband Aaron, Donald Fairchild, Clint Fairchild, Garrrett Willard, Keaton Willard, Shawn Ward, and Evan Willard and his wife Caroline; four great-grandchildren, Will and Claire Daniel and Dean and Oscar Harris; her sister Barbara Tillotson and husband Bill; nephew Bob Tillotson and wife Trish and daughter Katie; niece Lori Tillotson-Jahelka and her daughters Taylor and Camryn and son Mason.
Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Julius and Pearl, her husband Wilbur Willard, and son Michael Willard.
A funeral service under the direction of the Crafton-Cantrell Funeral Home in Aurora, will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 23, 2022, at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Aurora. Burial will follow at the Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Aurora. Rosary will be held from 6:00-6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22, 2022, with visitation to follow until 8:00 p.m. in the funeral home chapel.
Memorial donation in memory of Shirley can be made to the Holy Trinity Catholic Church for the Stations of the Cross Project in care of the funeral home.
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