Willard Albert Graunke, age 89, of Cannon Falls, formerly of Delano, passed away peacefully Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.
He was born Aug. 5, 1924, in Camden Township, and graduated from high school in 1945.
Willard married his sweetheart, Charlotte Neisen, May 7, 1947. Willard and Charlotte raised their family in Delano, retired in Detroit Lakes, and then moved back to Cannon Falls to be close to family.
Willard grew up during the Depression. His work life started at an early age, walking behind a plow horse at the age of 7, and helping his father run the farm. As he grew older, he trapped, hunted, and fished to help provide for the family.
Willard owned a blacksmith shop in New Germany, moved to Delano and farmed, then started working for Minneapolis Moline. He became a conservation officer-deputy sheriff of Clay County, worked in the construction industry for many years, and then retired.
While living in Delano, Willard was a member of the Delano Athletic Club, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, and Delano Sportsman Club, where he helped start the youth gun training program.
A veteran of World War II and the Korean War, he willingly and proudly served his country as a cook, paratrooper, and sharpshooter while in the service.
Willard’s hobbies were playing cards, reading, gardening, fishing, and hunting.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Emma (Rolf) Graunke; his wife, Charlotte; a son, David Graunke; and a daughter-in-law, Sandra (Goodman) Graunke.
Willard is survived by his children, Daniel (Mary Jo) Graunke, Dale (Lynn) Graunke, and Jennifer (Michael) Griffith; grandchildren Daniel, Nicki (Rob), Alexis, Darrick, Jaime (Joe), Nicholas, and Sean (Tara); great-grandchildren Logan, Caden, Lily, Noah, Tyler, Brayden, Evan, Savannah and Maci; and sisters Leora, Donna, Carol, Myra, and Janice.
A memorial Mass of Christian Burial took place Friday, Oct. 11 at 11:30 a.m. at St. Peter Catholic Church in Delano. Inurnment with military honors, provided by the Delano American Legion Post 377, was in the Calvary Cemetery in Delano.
A gathering of family and friends took place Thursday, Oct. 10 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Martha Hall of St. Peter Catholic Church; and continued Friday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Martha Hall, prior to the Mass.
Arrangements were handled by the Iten Funeral Home in Delano.