Catholic 08

Richard L Willson

February 17, 1936 ~ December 27, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old

Richard Willson Obituary

Richard “Dick” Lee Willson, 87, died peacefully December 27, 2023, in St. Paul, MN.

Dick was born the eldest of two children to Milo and Angeline Koellen Willson in Baraboo, WI, on February 17, 1936. He was raised in Rockford, IL, where he attended Rockford West High School and played baseball and football. Throughout his childhood and into adulthood, Dick was also an avid fisherman with fond memories of outdoor adventures in Wisconsin and the Minnesota Boundary Waters.

A 1958 graduate with a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Notre Dame, Dick also earned his M.B.A. from Notre Dame. A passionate fan of the Fighting Irish, he held longterm season tickets for multiple Notre Dame sports, including football, basketball, and ice hockey. Dick was an athlete and lively competitor who enjoyed tennis, golf, ice hockey (playing and coaching), skiing, fly fishing, and other activities learned through his many travels. His love for sport and adventure was shared with his four children, inspiring their own competition, play, and travel.

A Certified Public Accountant, Dick worked for Clark Equipment Co. and then was a partner at Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co.. Later, he founded his own accounting and valuation firm. He and his former wife, Ann Leonard Willson Molenda (deceased) moved with their children to Rockford, IL, Holland, MI, Bloomfield Hills, MI, and Jackson, MI, before settling in South Bend, IN. During those years, the family shared many happy times at Lake Michigan,  their vacation home on Hilton Head Island, SC, and at South Bend Country Club.  Dick was a member and volunteer for many years with the Rotary Club of South Bend. He and Ann also sponsored and employed a refugee family from Vietnam.

In semi-retirement, Dick lived in Saudi Arabia and taught accounting at Jubail Industrial College, then returned to South Bend and taught at Southwestern Michigan College. His retirement years were spent mostly in Ft. Myers, FL, with his then-wife, Mary Studer. He also learned to sculpt and construct and fly model airplanes and enjoyed doting on his pet dogs and cats.

While his physical health waned in recent years, Dick continued to be an enthusiast of conversation, music, humor, and occasional political debate. He used his time of physical restraint to lovingly stay engaged in his family’s lives and milestones. Dick is survived by his children Kate Willson Voelker (Mark) of Mishawaka, IN; Michael Willson (Marilyn) of St. Paul, MN; Fran Willson Bedan (Rick) of New Albany, IN; Ellen Willson Hoover (Gary) of Charlotte, NC; sister Judy Willson Behrens; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Visitation for Dick will be Saturday, January 13, 2024, from 10:00 to 10:45 am at Wells and Cruz Family Funeral Home, 503 W. Third St., Mishawaka, IN. Following the visitation, a Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 am, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 220 W. Fourth St., Mishawaka, IN.  With appreciation to the employees of Episcopal Church Home, where Dick received gentle and skilled care, the family suggests Episcopal Homes Foundation (St. Paul, MN) for those interested in making a memorial contribution. Donations can be made at


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January 13, 2024

10:00 AM to 10:45 AM
Wells and Cruz Family Funeral Home
503 W. 3rd Street
Mishawaka, IN 46544

Funeral Mass
January 13, 2024

11:00 AM
St. Joseph Catholic Church
220 W. 4th Street
Mishawaka, IN 46544


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