Willard known for her kindness, grace and style
April 5, 2018
A memorial service is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at the Haines Presbyterian Church for Dorothy Willard, 84, who died March 28 at the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center of congestive heart failure.
The widow of fisherman Evans Willard, mother of eight, grandmother of 12, as well as a great-grandmother and great-great grandmother, Willard tended to her flock and those closely affiliated with them her entire life. "My mom was a kind, kind person," Evangeline Willard said.
Dorothy Willard was born in Juneau on April 23, 1933 to Agnes Phillips, a Tlingit from Hoonah, and Daniel Carlson from Sweden. When she was 6 or 7 years old, she was removed from her home and placed in Haines House, a Presbyterian children's home here. She had suffered from rheumatic fever and was small for her age.
Willard attended school at Haines House and worked with the other children to maintain the facility. She remained a hard worker the rest of her life. "She hated milking the cows," Evangeline said. The smells and dirt in the barn may have been behind another lifelong trait. She never left home without her hair and make-up done and was admired for her beauty and grace. "Mom liked a little bit of bling, but not too much," Evangeline said.
After Evangeline graduated from cosmetology school, she said her mother loved having a "live-in stylist."
In later years Dorothy enjoyed trips to spas in California with her relative and friend, Irene Rowan Sparks.
Dorothy married Evans Willard of Klukwan on Feb. 7, 1950. Their first home was in Klukwan, where she played the piano at church (she was self-taught), sold home-baked pastries and developed a reputation as a seamstress.
Her husband served in the Army and fished in Bristol Bay, which meant he was away frequently. "She had to be mom and dad, and could be pretty tough when she needed to be," Evangeline said. Willard held an annual barbecue to celebrate her husband's return from the Bay. She liked to jitterbug with Evans, and he waltzed her to Shania Twain's "Looks Like We Made It" at their fiftieth anniversary party.
Willard's sunny home overlooking Lynn Canal was filled with young people and home cooking. She was a creative chef, from her moose chop suey to less identifiable dishes. "I'm sure she tricked us into eating all kinds of foods. There were a lot of mouths to feed, and times weren't always easy. Even when she didn't have much, she shared with anyone in need. 'Come on in and help yourself,' was her standard greeting," Evangeline said. Willard occasionally worked outside the home in housekeeping for the Captain's Choice Motel and preparing new homes for occupancy. She was a regular at basketball games and school events.
Grandson Luck Dunbar said that when his son was born in Juneau,Willard was so determined to be there for the event that she spent several weeks bunking at another grandson's place. "It wasn't exactly her style, if you know what I mean," he said. "She was a real trooper." She greeted his new baby the same way she did Luck and all of his cousins by whispering " 'So precious,'" he said.
Willard was a member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood and the American Legion Auxiliary.
She baked for every occasion, grew yellow roses and dahlias, knitted, crocheted, embroidered, and loved cats and dogs. She was also a big Chuck Norris fan.
In addition to her husband, daughters Janet Harrington and Margaret Totland preceded Dorothy Willard in death. She leaves children Chris Strong, Nancy Coleman, Raymond Willard, Evangeline Willard, Donna Murphy, and Danny Willard; grandchildren Dorothy Ann Sammons, Luck Dunbar, April Mohan, Kathryn Coleman, Evans Willard, Janessa Willard, Andrew Totland, Deni Hoy, Trygve Bakke, Corey Murphy, Tiffany Murphy, and Samantha Hoffman; eight great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Donations in her memory may be made to: Haines Animal Rescue Kennel at P.O. Box 1533 Haines 99827, the Glory Hole, 247 S. Franklin St., Juneau 99801, or Mat-Su Regional 2500 S Woodworth Loop, Palmer 99645.