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Willard Lee Pueppke, 91, was born in Plainview, Neb., on July 7, 1919, the son of Edward Pueppke and Margreth (Nissen) Pueppke. He departed this life on June 5, 2011, at the Heart of the Ozarks Health Care in Ava, Mo.
Willard was a graduate of Plainview, Neb., High School.
He and his family moved to Ava in 1940. In 1941, he joined the Air Force and became a B-24 pilot. He and his crew flew 50 bombing missions in the South Pacific. Captain Pueppke returned to the States and married Mildred Hardcastle on June 26, 1944 and together they have enjoyed almost 67 years on their family farm west of Ava.
To this union two sons were born, James Edward and Larry Earl. Captain Pueppke was discharged in 1945 and served several years in the reserves. He left the reserves as a major. Willard milked cows and did carpentry work. In 1956 he became the county circuit clerk and recorder and after six years he was elected the county tax collector holding this office for 24 years retiring in 1987.
He was involved in various community development organizations such as: Ava Airport, Rawlings, the Ava Golf Course, Ava Industrial Board and a charter member and commander of Douglas County American Legion Post 112. Willard was a Christian.
He was preceded in death by his mother, his father, and his stepmother Maggie; his sister Viola and her husband John Crabtree; his brother Dale and wife Sylvia; and his son James, who was killed in a plane crash in 1977.
He is survived by his wife Mildred; his son Larry and wife Sandy; his sisters Phyllis Soubier of Washington and Marjorie and her husband Gerald Haynes, of Ava; his grandsons Kirk and wife Shauna, and Kasey and wife Megan; his great-grandson James; his great-granddaughters Sophia and Briella; and three step-great-grandsons Nathan, Colby, and Kyle McCollom, as well as several nieces and nephews.
Services for Willard will be Thursday, June 9, at 10 a.m. at Clinkingbeard Funeral Home, Ava, Mo., with burial following in the Ava Cemetery with full military honors by Douglas County American Legion Post 112 and Ava VFW Post 5993.
Visitation was Wednesday, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the funeral home. Officiating will be Rev. Oren Alcorn. Memorials may be made to Douglas County Historical Society.
Online condolences may be made to www.clinkingbeardfuneral home.com.