Ruby May Willard, 80, of Chiloquin, Ore., died of natural causes
Aug. 28, 2004, at Merle West Medical Center in Klamath Falls,
Ruby May Willard, 80, of Chiloquin, Ore., died of natural causes Aug. 28, 2004, at Merle West Medical Center in Klamath Falls, Ore.

A memorial service will be at 5 p.m. today at the Calvary Chapel of Sprague River, Ore., with Pastor Ron Willis officiating.

Cremation will be by Klamath Cremation Service. Private visitation has been held.

Ruby was born May 25, 1924, in Van Buren, Ark., to Henry Columbus Allen and Maggie E. Parr.

She was the oldest of four children and attended grade school in Arkansas. In 1937, the family moved to Santa Clara County in California, where Ruby met Jess Willard through a family acquaintance. To assist the family during the Depression, she worked as a domestic helper and later worked in a cannery and a winery.

Ruby and Jess married Oct. 3, 1945, in Reno, Nev., and made their home in San Martin, where they started Jess Willard Dairy. Ruby did all the bookkeeping and worked alongside her husband tending to the daily chores and helping with the cows.

They retired in 1984 when they sold the dairy in Merced County. They sold their pasture ranch near Chowchilla in 2003, and moved to the Sprague River area.

Mrs. Willard loved to work in her garden, where she raised beautiful flowers and tender vegetables. Every year, she enjoyed making jellies and jams and canning her produce. Last week she canned peaches to see her family throughout the winter. She was an excellent cook. Her family and friends fondly remember her German chocolate cake, potato salad and fried chicken. She won a first place award for an apple pie at the Madera County Fair.

She enjoyed raising sheep, often caring for orphaned lambs in the warmth of her home. As an animal lover, she was known to many as the “cat lady,” and she loved her canaries. She enjoyed bowling in a league in Gilroy, where she won many trophies. Every year she crocheted slippers for every member of the family.

She always supported her children’s activities and was a cooking and canning 4-H leader for many years. She also helped with FFA and PTA. She was a California Milk Advisory Board member for more than 30 years, a member of the Western Dairyman’s Association, a member of the Eagles in Madera County, and she and Jess were founding members of the North American Sheep Dog Society. She also was a member of the Calvary Chapel Church in Sprague River.

She is survived by her husband, Jess of Sprague River; son, Ken Willard of Sprague River; son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Marsha Willard of Hollister, Calif.; daughter, Mary Lou Waller of Merced, Calif.; brother and sister-in-law, Gene and Ernie Allen of Morgan Hill, Calif.; grandchildren and spouses, Kathy and Bill Gordon of Aurora, Colo., Carolyn and Bob Tienken of Antelope, Calif., Richard and Michele Waller of Merced, Calif., Neil Willard of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Nancy Willard of Santa Cruz, Calif.; great-grandchildren, Aaron, Brandon and Beth Gordon of Aurora, Colo., Daniel Canada of Merced, Calif., Tim Canada of Antelope, Calif. and Jesse Porter-Waller of Merced, Calif.; and numerous nieces and nephews, friends and pets.

She was preceded in death by two sisters, Geneva Schneider and Laura Brooks.

Contributions in memory of Ruby may be made to the Heart Research Foundation, P.O. Box 789, Klamath Falls, OR 97601; the Merle West Cancer Treatment Center, 2865 Daggett Ave., Klamath Falls, OR 97601; or to Calvary Chapel, P.O. Box 312, Sprague River, OR 97609.

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