John (Jack) Newton Willson, 98, passed away on Nov. 10, 2023. He was born Feb. 20, 1925, in Elizabeth, N.J., to Albert Newton and Virginia (Beggs) Willson. He attended schools in Illinois and Arkansas before graduating from Sheboygan High School in Wisconsin in 1943, after which he immediately enlisted in the Army Air Corps to serve during WWII.
After his discharge in 1946, he worked several jobs before enrolling for two years in Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. He then returned to Siloam Springs, Ark., where he worked in the machine shop at John Brown University. It was in Siloam Springs that he met and married the love of his life, Elizabeth (Betty) McIver, on June 8, 1952. He graduated from JBU in 1955.
In the 1960s, He worked at Rocketdyne in Neosho, where rocket engines were built and tested for the NASA space program. After leaving Rocketdyne, he became an advocate of voluntary unionism and worked with the National Right to Work Committee, serving on the Board of Directors for many years.
He taught at the Vo-Tech School of Crowder College in Neosho for over 20 years, teaching machine tool technology to high school and college students. After retirement, he continued to work part-time with local machine shops.
Ordained by Prison Mission Association, he served as a volunteer prison chaplain at the Newton Country jail for over 50 years and pastored two small country churches. In 2018, after a total of 55 years living in Neosho, he and his wife moved to Monett.
He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Betty; one son, Mark (Wendy) Willson; four daughters, Leah, Anna, Paula, and Sarah Willson; four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his older sister, Barbara Willson; three younger brothers, Don, Fred, and Paul Willson; and one grandson, Adam Lee Willson.
A memorial service with military honors was held on Friday, Nov. 17, at Buchanan Funeral Home in Monett with Pastor Frank Ward officiating. A private interment was held at Roller Ridge Cemetery in Gateway, Ark.
Memorial contributions have been suggested to the Roller Ridge Cemetery c/o Linda Mudd, 1008 N. 9th Street, Rogers, AR 72756.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Buchanan Funeral Home in Monett.


Lawrence County Record

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