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December 13, 1916 - March 29, 2013
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Robert “Bob” Willard, 96, of Framingham, passed away Friday, March 29, 2013 at The Bedford VA Hospital in Bedford. He was the brother of Kenneth H. Willard, M.D. and Virginia Scannell.
Bob attended Framingham Public Schools and was a 1934 graduate of Framingham High School. He attended Boston University School of Business Administration and during a 30 year military and civilian overseas career with the US Government, he attended and completed several continuing education courses in logistic and inventory management sponsored by the Univ. of Maryland Overseas Program and US Army. Bob participated in the beachhead landing of the D Day invasion of Normandy, France as a combat solider of the Fourth Ivy Leaf Motorized Infantry Division under the command of Major General Raymond O. Barton and Assistant Commander Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, Jr. He was wounded in action in the vicinity of St. Lo, France and evacuated to England for treatment. Upon recuperating from his injuries, he was returned to active duty and participated in major battle campaigns across Europe.
Mr. Willard received the following military awards; (a.) Arrowhead Recognition for the first wave of troops landing on the Utah Beach on D Day, (b.) Purple Heart; (c.) Combat Infantry Badge; (d.) Three Battle Campaigns, (e.) Presidential Unit Citation; and (f.) Good Conduct Service Medal. After victory in Europe, Mr. Willard was honorably discharged overseas and offered a U.S. Government position in the U.S. Graves Registration Command, whose mission was to search for and locate fallen and lost soldiers, so as to process their remains for full military honor and burial. Mortuary support services were established within this command; military cemeteries were designed and constructed to accommodate a sovereign and hallowed resting place for our fallen soldiers. Parents or loved ones of fallen soldiers were given the option of having their loved ones interned in these U.S. Government Overseas Cemeteries or having them returned to the US for burial. Upon completion of cemeteries in France, England and the Benelux countries of Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, the U.S. Graves Registration Command was phased out and the responsibility of administering, maintaining and controlling this important government program was assigned to the American Battle Monuments Commission. At that point, Mr. Willard was transferred to the US Army Occupation Forces in the American Zone of Occupation of partitioned Germany. After the Berlin Airlift Crisis, and the unification of Germany as a valid and sovereign nation, NATO’s organizational mission became the linchpin, protecting and overseeing the Atlantic Pact nations against aggression from the Warsaw Pact nations. Mr. Williard remained in the employ of NATO in a logistic and inventory management position until his return to the US to retire in 1975.
Retirement, in the true sense of withdrawing oneself from the active, challenging and rewarding aspects of everyday living to a sedentary reclusive life, did not bode well to one who was still eager to contribute to the creation of a better society by aiding and helping the poor, hungry, underprivileged and homeless. Therefore, upon his return, Mr. Willard continued to remain actively employed by working for the now defunct Framingham Trust, CO, the former Shawmut Bank and the Zaire Corporation for and additional 12 years.
Mr. Willard was affiliated with or an active member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled Veterans, the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, and the American Association of Retired Persons. He was also a member of the Ancient and Fraternal Order of Masons, and a member of the Scottish Rite Bodies as a 32nd Degree Mason.
Mr. Willard has bequeathed the residue of his estate to the Salvation Army, 35 Concord St, Framingham, by establishing a fund known as the Robert F. Willard Charitable Endowment Fund with earnings there from to be used for the specific purposes of Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation; Child Day Care; Senior Citizens, and Aid and Comfort to the Homeless.
Visitation will be held on Friday, April 5, 2013 from 9am-10am in the Wesley United Methodist Church, 80 Beacon St. in Framingham, prior to a church service at 10:00a.m. Burial will follow in Edgehill Grove Cemetery in Framingham. Services will be conducted by Donald Hegeman. Representatives from the Salvation Army will also be participating in the service. Arrangements are under the care of the Chesmore Funeral Home of Holliston, www.ChesmoreFuneralHome.com