Willard Seidel

Willard Seidel

Willard Seidel, 90, of Belle Rive passed away at 10:35am February 14, 2022 at SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital, Mt. Vernon, after several months of declining strength and health. 

Willard was born on a farm near Crescent, Missouri April 4th 1931 to George and Alma Seidel. In 1937 the family relocated to a farm on Log Cabin Road west of Opdyke.  A few years later when Willard was only 12, he tragically lost his mother to a sudden illness. Consequently he was forced to take on responsibilities way beyond his years as he and his dad ‘bached’ (as in bachelor), as he called it, out on the farm. This experience forged traits which would become hallmarks of Willard’s personality; hard work, self-reliance, responsibility, and confidence. Willard attended Opdyke High School for three years until it was consolidated into Mt. Vernon Township High School. After graduating, Willard stayed on the farm, bought a truck and carried short-haul local cargos of grain, livestock, and coal to supplement farm income. During the next 2 summers after the crops were planted, Willard took his truck out to the plains states to work in the wheat harvest, starting in Kansas and following the ripening wheat northward to the Canadian border before returning home. These experiences gave Willard invaluable life-lesson perspectives on agriculture and recognizing opportunity. About this time Willard was drafted into the service during the Korean War. He chose to join the Marine Corps, where he became a mechanic on amphibious tractor landing craft for 2 years. His abilities were highly regarded and he was oftentimes called on to troubleshoot problems that vexed other mechanics.  Upon discharge, Willard returned to the area and began farming on his own. Soon he met and later married Anna Mae Anderson of Mt. Vernon on February 25th 1955. Over the ensuing years, they bought a farm just west of Mt. Vernon and raised grain, livestock, and two sons, Roger and Jerry. In 1966, just as the farm was hitting its stride, Interstate 57 came along and cut it in half, taking out the main barn and feedlots with it. Seeing the opportunity in this misfortune, Willard constructed an all new farmstead on the bigger half of the surviving farmland. Then 12 years later, a similar situation emerged when two corporations each wanted acreage to build factories on the farm. Recognizing the opportunity, Willard again walked away from all that he had so carefully created to relocate to a better farm, this time south of Belle Rive near the area he had grown up in. For a third time, Willard ‘started over’ and constructed a newer, better farmstead which continues today under the management of his son Jerry.

Willard loved farming and especially farming with his family–so much so that he worked alongside Jerry until he retired at 81 to spend more time with Anna Mae, who was beginning to suffer failing health.  He steadfastly cared for her at home and eventually at a nursing home until her death on February, 14, 2019, eleven days before their 64th wedding anniversary. This was a heartbreaking loss, not unlike the early loss of his mother or the crushing loss of his eldest son, Roger, who died suddenly from an anesthesia reaction at the age of 42. His sorrows were comforted by his faith.  Willard was a born-again Christian who served as a deacon and teacher at New Hope (Webb) Baptist Church and then later as a teacher at Belle Rive Missionary Baptist Church. His life was a demonstration of the success of Christian principles and moral discipline. Favorite pastimes of Willard’s were hunting and fishing, both with his friends, and especially with his grandsons, and investing in the stock market-something he seemed to have a natural talent for. He also served several years on the University of Illinois Extension Council. Willard is survived by his son Jerry and wife Laura Seidel, daughter-in-law Holly Moss, five grandsons and two great-grandsons: Corey Seidel and wife Lauren, and their sons Dawson and Carter; Luke Seidel; Ron Seidel; Greg Seidel; and Chase Seidel. Also surviving are several cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife Anna Mae Seidel, son Roger Seidel, and brothers Roy and Larry Seidel.  The family gratefully acknowledges the dedication and outstanding care provided to Willard by the staff of Countryside Manor, SSM Good Samaritan Hospital, and private caregivers Tammy Foster and Michelle Bravard.

A visitation will be held Saturday, February 19, 2022 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Hughey Funeral Home in Mt. Vernon.  A funeral service will be held Sunday, February 20, 2022 at 2:00 pm with the Reverend Richard McCormick and the Reverend Jeremy Hamson officiating. Burial will follow at Thomason Cemetery in Wayne City. Memorials may be made to Belle Rive Missionary Baptist Church. Call Hughey Funeral Home at 618-242-3348 or visit hugheyfh.com for further information.

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