Donnie was born February 6, 1945. He was born and raised in Moberly, Missouri by his father, George J. Willer, and his mother, Agnes A. (Vitt) Willer, who preceded him in death. He had one brother, George Robert “Bob” Willer who also preceded him in death.
He is survived by his sister, Norma Lou (Palmer) Willer of Jefferson City, and his brother, James Dale Willer of Moberly, Missouri. Donnie was married to Judy Carol (Burton) Willer of Huntsville, Missouri on April 22, 1967. They would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year.
Donnie is also survived by his four children; Tim S. (Victoria) Willer, Tammy S. (Jeremy) Jamison, and Tom S. Willer, all of Norwalk, Ohio, and Toni S. (Justin) Chaplin of Westfield Indiana, and his seven grandchildren; Kimberly Jamison, Steven Willer, Jakob Willer, Andrew Willer, Keirra Jamison, Gretchen Willer, and Addelyn Renee Chaplin.
Donnie began working at an early age, sweeping garages in Moberly and learning all he could about cars and racing, which continued to be a passion of his for many years. To further his knowledge in cars, Donnie also worked at Noll Motors, Triangle Parts, Hendrens Parts, and Lynch’s Speed Shop, all located in Moberly. In 1973, after working in these various auto parts stores, he accepted a job with a prefab housing company called Wick Homes, where he drove a crane throughout the Midwest. He, typically, worked 80 to 90 hours a week.
In 1979, when the hours and travel conflicted with raising a family to his satisfaction, he took a job with Norfolk Western (N&W) Railroad as a mechanic in the Roadway Equipment Department. After only a few years as a mechanic, in 1988, he was offered and accepted a supervisor’s position. Once again, to be able to spend more time with his family. In order to accept this position, he had to move his family to Lucasville, Ohio to work in the Portsmouth office. This allowed him to be home with his family nights and weekends.
In 1989, after only a few months, he was offered a new supervisor’s position in Bellevue, Ohio. After allowing his family to vote, he moved his family to Norwalk, Ohio. This would prove to be a positive move for both him and his family. In 2000, he and Judy would take Tom and Toni to Decatur Illinois to be closer to mothers, brothers, and sister. Despite the friendships they made in Decatur, they longed to be closer to their kids and, when Donnie retired in 2010, returned to Norwalk. This would be Donnie’s final home. Donnie always was a master of priorities...God, family, and work, in that order. Even though he did not belong to a specific church in his later years, he was a devout Catholic. He prayed often and had tremendous faith in “the man upstairs” to take care of him and his family.
He took tremendous pride in his family. He had strong, loving, and unique relationships with each of his children and grandchildren. He did not have sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law, or sisters-in-law. He had daughters, sons, sisters, and brothers. The love of his life, Judy, stood by his side, through good and bad, for 50 years. Everything they did, they did together. Despite Donnie referring to his wife as “the boss”, they were equals in every sense of the word.
He loved family gatherings. Particularly, the 4th of July and Christmas family gatherings. He took great pride in preparing food and entertainment for these gatherings. Christmas was a constant source of “gag gifts”, and 4th of July was always known for being entertaining. He took pride in the fact that he never had to hunt for a job. His reputation as an intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated employee always preceded him. He had a strong work ethic that he instilled in his children, who then instilled it in his grandchildren. His philosophy: if you're getting paid for it, do it right. Donnie was both serious and silly, tough and soft. He could find a sense of humor in everything, yet he took everything seriously. Everyone who knew him loved him. He was loved for his wisdom, his strong family roots, his sense of humor, his ability to help at the drop of a hat, and his strong work ethic. Life for those who were close to him will never be the same, but we take comfort in the fact that we will be blessed with his presence again soon.
Friends may call on Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. until the time of service at 11:00 a.m. in Walker Funeral Home, 98 West Main Street, Norwalk, Ohio. Rev. Ann Marshall, Pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church will officiate. Services will also be held in Moberly, Missouri, at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Laurels of New London, 204 West Main Street, New London, Ohio 44851, or to Christy Lane School, 306 South Norwalk Road, Norwalk, Ohio 44857. Online condolences may be made by going to www.edwalkerfuneralhome.com.