Willard D. Graves, of Berthoud, died Feb. 2, 2009, at hospice care in Louisville. He was 100.
Willard was born Oct. 15, 1908, in Spring Valley, Minn., to Charles Roscoe and Mabel Meta (Molsberry) Graves. The family moved to Colorado a few years later, where Willard and his seven brothers and sisters grew up on a farm west of Berthoud. Willard loved nature - the trees and grasses, wildlife, and especially birds. He was dubbed "Tweet" by his sisters because of his expertise in whistling and bird calls.
A 1927 graduate of Berthoud High School, Willard went on to major in forestry management at Colorado A&M, now Colorado State University, and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the old Warner College of Natural Resources in 1936.
In the late 1930s, Willard began a 30-year career with the Department of Agriculture's newly formed Soil Conservation Service. As a range conservationist with a specialty in grasslands, he helped develop vegetation recovery plans and other erosion control for farms and ranches following the Dust Bowl. He also was part owner of the Graves family ranch near Clark, operated by his brothers, Charles and LeRoy. He spent many enjoyable haying, fishing and hunting seasons in the Clark area.
On Nov. 1, 1941, Willard married Helen Dolores Hall, of Trinidad. Their newlywed plans abruptly changed when Pearl Harbor was attacked the next month. Willard joined the Army Air Corps where he served stateside as a meteorologist. After the war, Willard, Helen and their two toddlers moved back to the Fort Collins area, where he returned to his work with the Soil Conservation Service, and they began raising their family of four children. In 1957, they moved to Littleton where Willard resided until moving to the Berthoud Living Center in September 2007.
Willard was preceded in death by his wife, Helen, in 2002; his parents; sisters Reva Bradney, Alice Crosby and Hazel Coler; and two brothers, Charles Robert Graves and Oscar Myron Graves. A younger brother, LeRoy, died one day after Willard's passing.
He is survived by one brother, Jay, of Denver; four children including Tom Graves, of Clark, Marilyn Graves, of Indian Hills, Carolyn Landes, of Cortez, and Linda Graves, of Littleton; eight grandchildren including Mike Graves, of Loveland; Jeff Graves, of Lausanne, Switzerland; Matt Graves, of Steamboat Springs, and Jessica Graves Card, of Boulder; 11 great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and in-laws. He was a wonderful father and grandfather and is deeply missed.
Per Willard's wish, no formal services are scheduled. A family celebration of his life is planned for next summer in the mountains near Clark.