Willard James Dalke


Willard James Dalke was born Nov. 28, 1928, and passed away on May 26, 2019.

How do you measure a man? In many ways — one wife for 68 years, four sons, many grandkids and great-grandkids, successful education and career, three houses designed and built, service to God and Man, and 90 years of life. There are also other ways — fast in showing love (although he wouldn’t say it), slow to show anger, high in expectations, low in regrets, heavy in wisdom, light in folly, deep in conviction, shallow in vices, frugal with money but generous with help. He was a Family Man, a Believer, a Teacher but not a Preacher. His legacy and memory will live on with all of us. Thank you for blessing our family, Dad.

Willard was born in Grant, Neb.; grew up in Colorado and Iowa; and attended colleges in South Carolina (Bob Jones), Iowa (Morningside), and finished his B.A. in Liberal Arts for English and Speech in Minnesota (Northwestern). On March 25, 1951, he married the love of this life, Mary Dick, and soon after started their family before moving to complete his master’s degree at the University of Oregon.

Accepting an English teaching position at Arvin High School in 1955, Willard and Mary moved to Arvin, Calif., where he designed and built their house. He continued working at the high school and held many other positions — Dean of Students, Administrator, Vice Principal, as well as Principal of the night-time Adult School. After moving to Bakersfield in 1965, he occupied his time working in Arvin, built two more houses, raised kids, traveled often, and served in the Mennonite Brethren Church leadership, youth group, and choir. At the age of 62, Willard retired.

A move to Templeton, Calif., allowed Willard and Mary to enjoy retirement by hosting their children and grandchildren, gardening, traveling, serving at church, singing in the West Coast Mennonite Men’s Chorus, and lots of trailer camping with their Christian Campers group. Willard can be celebrated for a life well lived!

Willard is survived by his wife Mary; sons Dean, Dale, Duane, and David; grandkids and great-grandkids; and a plethora of friends.

Services for friends and family to be held at Palm Village Retirement Community in Reedley, Calif., on Saturday, June 22 from 10:30 a.m. -1 p.m. A light lunch will be provided.

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