James "Jim" W. Willman, 73 of St. Libory, Nebraska, died on Monday, May 24, 2021 at CHI Health - St. Francis in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Funeral Services will be 10:30 A.M. Saturday, June 5, 2021 at the Zion Lutheran Church in Worms, Nebraska. Pastor Craig Niemeier will be officiating. Interment will be in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Palmer, Nebraska.
Visitation will be from 4:00 - 7:00 P.M. on Friday, June 4, 2021 at the Zion Lutheran Church Gymnasium in Worms, Nebraska. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Central Nebraska Humane Society, Zion Lutheran Church, or the LCMS Comfort Dogs. Greenway-Dietz Funeral Home in Palmer is assisting the family.
James was born to Lester & Ethel (Ellis) Willman on January 20, 1948 in the Holdrege, Nebraska Hospital. He was raised on the family farm near Wilcox by his loving family consisting of his parents, his dad’s 2 uncles, and his Grandmother Ellis. Jim was baptized and confirmed in the Methodist Church of Wilcox, transferring to York, Grand Island, and finally to Worms Zion Lutheran Church. At Zion, Jim sang in the choir and tried to attend Bible Studies as often as he could. Studying the Bible was a joy to him, always wanting to dig into a historical outlook of the Church. His quiet way of studying brought perspective so he could find the connections that built the Church. This love of all history was a lifelong passion in the books he read and the movies and shows he watched.
Jim’s early and high school education were in Wilcox, Nebraska where he graduated in 1966. During this time, his love of horses grew from watching his father and uncle handle the work horses, to his ex-calvary horse, Toby, to wild and crazy Cocoa, and finally beautiful Inky. Graduating high school, then going to college at Kearney State put a hold on his horse showing which always saddened him just a bit. He did, however, meet Susan Samuelson of St. Paul while a senior at Kearney.
Jim and Susan discovered very early the shared love of horses and their lifelong friendship grew. Jim finished college in 1970 with a BS in Business. He and Susan married on August 15, 1970. The couple found their way to an acreage north of Grand Island, near Worms, NE where they brought their 3 horses. This small beginning grew into a horse raising project with futurities, horse shows, and 4-H. During their early years, he also developed a love of fishing from Susan’s dad. Many happy hours were spent fishing on the Loup River and small lakes around Nebraska. He later developed a passion for dear hunting with his brother-in-law and this became a much welcomed break from ordinary living. He retired from New Holland in 2003 after 30 years. Jim stayed retired for about a year, then became a relief Post Master, mainly in St. Libory, for 12 years.
Jim and Susan’s family was not complete until their 2 sons, Jay and Chad, were born. The boys brought a joy and smile that made his face glow. They were raised helping with the colts, grooming, cleaning stalls, and showing 4H. Jim chauffeured and helped in the background, not missing one event. He attended theirs and also his grandsons events with that proud love of them always on his face.
Those left to cherish his memory include his wife of 50+ years, Susan; sons & daughter-in-law, Jay & Deb Willman of Lincoln, Chad Willman of Norfolk; grandsons, Jeremy & Scott Willman; brother-in-law, Terry & Sharon Samuelson; niece, Christi, and her spouse, Tim Gregory and nephew, Shane Samuelson of St. Louis, Missouri.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Lester & Ethel; his uncle and stepfather, Harve; and both parents-in-law, Ossian and Louise Samuelson.
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