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Walter Willms
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Walter "Clayton" Willms, 94, of Oakdale, died Friday, Aug. 22, peacefully at his home. He was born to Walter B. and Daisy (Rickart) Willms on the Willms' home ranch near Knights Ferry on Aug. 16, 1914. Mr. Willms was the grandson of John Remmers Willms who founded Willms Ranch in 1852.

In 1915, he moved with his parents to the home they built in Oakdale. He returned to live there after the deaths of his parents in the early '60's.

He worked for Van Pelt Fire Trucks for 46 years, becoming plant manager. After retirement he devoted his time to his ranch, spending most every day there as long as he was able. He was always checking fences, windmills, watering holes and the river and was a caretaker of the land, which includes Lover's Leap and the bluffs overlooking Wildcat Creek. The ranch was always his refuge.

A WWII Veteran, he reached the rank of First Sergeant serving in the Army Air Forces at the 590th Air Depot near London, England. When he returned home from duty in England he married his sweetheart Betty Raggio. He and Betty were avid travelers. They enjoyed cruising and flying with friends to many far away locations.

Mr. Willms was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Masonic Lodge #275, Aahmes Shrine, Kiwanis, Dinner Club, Knights Ferry History and Museum Associates as well as the Oakdale Volunteer Fire Department. He also served on the Oakdale Elementary School Board and the Caltrans Oakdale By-Pass Advisory Committee.

Survivors include his loving wife of 63 years, Betty; and his daughter Fay (Terry) Prichard of Farmington; and two grandchildren, Nicholas and Lauren.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, Aug. 28, at 10 a.m. at the Oakdale Memorial Chapel, 830 West F St., Oakdale. The burial will follow at the Oakdale Citizens Cemetery, 701 East J St., Oakdale.

Remembrances may be made in his memory to the Alzheimer's Aid Society of Northern California, 2501 McHenry Ave., Modesto, CA 95215.

The Escalon (Calif.) Times

Aug. 27, 2008