Willard Junior “JR” Peck
Willard Junior “JR” Peck, age 90, the positive, friendly man with a rapid fire infectious smile and hearty laugh; the dedicated, hardworking farmer and animal lover; the warm hearted and generous sole; the traveler and adventurer; the sportsman and avid Hawkeye fan; the fixer and the grill master; danced his way into Heaven on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, after living his life to the fullest even during a courageous 3 ½ year battle with cancer.
Funeral services for Willard will be held on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 11:00 AM at the Britt Christian Reformed Church – At The Crossroads Ministries, 569 Main Avenue North in Britt, with Pastor Dave Prince officiating. Burial will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Britt.
Visitation for Willard will be held from 9:30 AM – 11:00 at the church on Tuesday.
Willard was born September 10, 1929, in Buffalo Township (Kossuth County) on the family farm near Titonka, Iowa, to William and Gertrude (Nance) Peck, the eighth of twelve children. His family moved several times during the depression. In the spring of 1935, his family settled on a farm near Crystal Lake where he remained during his school years. He was baptized in the sand pit on the Forest City blacktop as a child.
Growing up during the depression, Junior learned about hard work using horses to farm, carrying water to the house and barn, having no indoor plumbing or refrigeration, milking cows by hand starting at age 6, using lanterns for light, etc. He had a vivid memory of how their large family worked together and had each other as playmates for fun and mischief. A major historical change occurred while Junior was growing up with introduction of electricity to the house with one dangling kitchen lightbulb and an electrical pump for the windmill. Their first tractor purchased in the 1940’s was a 1936 Farmall F12 steel wheeled tractor. Before JR finished high school, he knew farming would be his career, and was determined to work hard to try to be successful at it.
Junior and his brother, Donnie, played ball together with Donnie as the pitcher and Junior as the catcher while in school. Junior played basketball and baseball in high school and was known for his quickness and agility before graduating from Crystal Lake High School in l948. He also played softball and baseball in the catcher position with the Crystal Lake traveling town team starting in 1946 and continuing for approximately 15+ years after high school graduation.
Junior married Gretchen Siekmeier in 1948. He worked in the tiling business digging trenches by hand, as well as with the Siekmeier farming operation. Six children were born into the family.
In 1951, the Peck farming operation began as Junior recalled fondly “with $45 in his pocket and a generous banker”. He farmed and raised livestock for 54 years and especially enjoyed the hogs and cattle. He took his purebred Angus cattle to shows throughout the Midwest and enjoyed the competitions. Because of his admiration of nature, one of his highlights was preserving a natural wildlife habitat with some of his land going to the Department of Natural Resources. Watching crops, animals, or wildlife was always a good reason to go for a drive. He also drove motor homes for 10 years for Winnebago Industries to see other parts of US. JR also enjoyed many years of fishing trips to Canada and Alaska. He looked forward to wintering in Texas for several years.
JR gave of his time freely and was eager to help others. He served on the ASC board of Winnebago County representing Linden Township for several years helping establish county and township corn and bean yields. He was a 4-H leader for many years and assisted with the Winnebago County Fair helping with the cattle shows. JR raised buffalo and hosted the Crystal Lake buffalo feed for the surrounding area. He volunteered to grill meat for various associations and fund raisers, as well as family gatherings. He was a member of the Winnebago and Hancock Cattleman’s Association and received the Winnebago producer of the year award. He was president of the Crystal Lake Corporation and spearheaded building the gas station as well as volunteered labor seven days a week until finished. In later years, he volunteered to serve coffee each morning six days a week for almost 10 years at the Hob Nob bar and restaurant in Britt.
He loved working hard and remaining active. In 1991, he moved to Britt. JR enjoyed growing flowers and having a vegetable garden. Travelers remember the barrel of colorful spilled flowers on his hillside as they rounded the corner coming to or going from Britt which he maintained for over 25 years. He liked mowing his yard and did so to the end of this year’s season.
JR appreciated music, and his favorite exercise was dancing. He was the first one on and last one off the dance floor enjoying every minute of the dancing, as well getting to know the good people there who became friends. His 80th and 85th birthdays were celebrated with a party, band, and dancing. Dressed in black, his favorite color, he traveled locally regularly dancing in Duncan, Mason City, Albert Lea, Osage, Carpenter, Dows, and Blairsburg. He also traveled out of state to many musical festivals and spent winters in Texas to dance often. His goal was to dance in as many states (including Alaska and Hawaii) and countries as possible, and he did.
Raising his family was the highlight of his life, and he especially liked interacting with young children including his own grandchildren as well as anyone else’s children. Willard is survived by his four children, Gregory (Barb) Peck, Forest City, IA, Melinda (Steve) Grover, Memphis, MO, Kathy (Steve) Miller, Fernandina Beach, FL, Jeffrey (Shirley) Peck, Forest City, IA; fifteen grandchildren, Lani, Shawn, Ryan, Heidi, Melissa, Stephanie, Barry, Valerie, Sarah, Rachel, Heather, Travis, Angela, Crystal, Tristan; 30 great grandchildren; brother, Donald Peck, Zearing, IA; and sister, Darlene (Darl) Schmidt, Garner, IA. He will also be remembered by special friends, Rennae and Dave Padderud, Britt, IA, Dustyn Padderud, Belgrade, MT, Nick and Kelsey Baker, and children Brody, Eli, and Brooke, Waverly, IA.
He was preceded in death by parents, William and Gertrude Peck; twin infant sons, Michael and Mitchel; son-in-law, Alan Jones; infant brother, Clyde Peck; two brothers, Glen Peck and Wilbur (Duane) Peck; and six sisters, Evelyn Brower, Ethel Lewerke, Gladys Waldschmidt, Edna Tannahill, Violet Jorgenson, and Sharon Trask.
Self-proclaimed as a “teaser and a pleaser”, many will miss his smile and the smiles he brought to others with his quick wit, friendliness, positive attitude, and joyfulness to help. His personal daily challenge was to make unsuspecting strangers or familiar friends smile and feel happy. He felt the happiest when everyone else was happy. He took advantage of each day, and lived it to the fullest.
The Britt Christian Reformed Church was his home church. He believed in and counted on God’s perfect plan, timing, blessings, forgiveness, grace, and salvation.