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Willard M. Rouze - March 18, 2010


Willard Marsh Rouze, son of E. Marsh and Helen Cottrell Rouze, was born Jan. 27, 1921, in the family home on East 9th Street, Imperial, Neb. Willard passed away Thursday, March 11, 2010, at the age of 89.
Willard attended Imperial Grade School, Chase County High School and graduated from Hastings College, class of 1942.
Immediately upon graduation he began to work for the Signal Corp. in New Jersey until he was drafted into the military in the fall of 1942. Here he spent the next three years, the first in training in the U.S. and the next two in the European Theater. His unit, an antiaircraft unit, was not scheduled for the first wave of the invasion and was farther delayed when the boat carrying them across the channel took a torpedo from a German submarine. Though badly damaged, they managed to limp up to Utah beach and discharge the unit. He served as the intelligence sergeant for the battalion. Following VE day and a little time with the occupation forces he was discharged in the fall of 1945. Many years later he wrote a book of his memories and entitled it “Three Years in Uniform.”
Shortly after leaving the armed services he began to work with his father in the hardware store, eventually owning it and working in the business for 40 years. When he closed the store in 1986 it was the 100th year of the family being involved in the hardware business and he was the third generation.
In 1951 he was married to Ava Marie Messinger, of McCook, and they are the parents of three children, Ned, Nan and Grant. Ava and Willard made their home on Broadway, about three blocks from where he was born, and lived there until present, together more than 58 years of love and faithful service to each other.
For more than 15 years Willard was a substitute rural mail carrier and carried the south Imperial route for a year while waiting for a permanent carrier to be appointed. He often mentioned that even though he had never lived on a farm a day of his life, it was hard for him to remember when he was not involved with cattle, be it purebred or commercial. When the family inherited a farm, he helped in the changing of it from a dry land operation to one of irrigation.
Willard was a member of the board of directors of the Imperial Public Power District at the time of its formation and served for more than 30 years, most of the time as its secretary/treasurer.
He served as the local weather observer/statistician for nearly 60 years and received numerous awards for his efforts.
He was an avid collector of United States postage stamps.
Willard was a past member of Rotary, VFW, and Junior Chamber of Commerce.
He also enjoyed genealogy and the learning more of his family which traced to John Howland of the Mayflower and William the Conqueror of England and yet was never able to obtain a birth certificate of his own father.
Willard was a perpetual member and past master of the local Masonic Lodge and served as its secretary/treasurer for more than 20 years. He received his 60 year membership pin in 2006. He was a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason and had received their honorary KCCH degree. He was a member of the Shrine.
Willard was a member of the Imperial Methodist Church for more than 50 years and when the new Methodist Church in Imperial was built in 1992, he helped with its planning and served as treasurer of the building fund.
Willard was a loyal supporter of the new Imperial Public Library when it was built in 2005 and he and Ava were honored by being chosen to cut the ceremonial ribbon as a part of its dedication in the spring of 2006. After retirement Willard and Ava enjoyed traveling with some of the places being Alaska, England, the Northeast U.S. and Washington D.C.
Survivors include: wife, Ava, of Imperial, Neb.; son, Dr. Ned Rouze, and wife, Dr. Alison Clay, of Durham, N.C.; daughter, Nan McHugh and her three children, Lauren, John and Brian, of Columbus, Ohio; son, Grant Rouze of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; brother, Gordon, and wife, Gloria, of Houston, Texas; sister-in-law, Delyn Rouze of Montgomery, Ala; brother-in-law, Dee Messinger, and wife, Lois, of McCook, Neb.; and many nephews and nieces.
Willard was preceded in death by his parents, Marsh and Helen Rouze; sister, Frances; brother, Edward; and son-in-law, John McHugh.
Funeral services were held Monday, March 15, 2010, 10:30 a.m., (MDT) at the United Methodist Church, Imperial, with Pastor Kay Alnor officiating.
Pianist was Mrs. Marcia Bauerle and singers were Irvin and Garneta Bauerle.
Casketbearers were Richard Johnson, Burdette Bauerle, Frank Clements, Seth Fitzpatrick, Marvin Large, Merril Humphreys, Tom Elder, John Osler and Chas Browning.
Interment followed at Mount Hope Cemetery, Imperial, Neb.
In lieu of flowers, memorials have been established to the United Methodist Church of Imperial and the Imperial Public Library.
Liewer Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.