Cover photo for Willard R. Funk's Obituary
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1952 Willard 2023

Willard R. Funk

February 8, 1952 — April 15, 2023

McPherson, KS

Willard Funk, the third of five children, was born on February 8, 1952, to Roy and Mary Ann (Rempel) Funk at Bethesda Hospital in Goessel, Kansas.


He attended Cresswell, a one room country school 6 miles south of Hillsboro from first through third grade. He was sure to inform his first-grade teacher, Frieda Suderman, that "I don't know nuttin." The country schools consolidated, and he began fourth grade in the Hillsboro schools. He was baptized and became a member of Brudertal Mennonite Church, which later united with Johannestal Church and became Trinity Mennonite Church. He represented the youth by turning the first shovel at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Trinity Mennonite Church on May 15, 1966.


Fifty-seven years later, Will attended the final church service at Trinity Mennonite Church on Easter Sunday April 9, 2023. Barely able to speak and stand, he stood up and shared with the congregation what the church and the Christian doctrine had meant to him in his formative years and was the "foundation on which he was standing today."


He grew up on a dairy farm five miles southwest of Hillsboro, where he learned work ethic and commitment, doing daily chores, milking cows and everything that goes with that occupation. He graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1969 and entered the workforce, first at Donahue in Durham and then Hillsboro Industries.


On a chance meeting through a mutual friend, Willard met Janet Schmidt. What started out to be a casual acquaintance culminated in Holy matrimony on December 28, 1974, at the Lehigh Mennonite Church. They lived in Lehigh, Kansas, where on September 13, 1978, they were blessed with a son, Marshal Craig. After a few years, they moved to McPherson. They joined the First Baptist Church where he was involved in the worship team, singing and playing guitar or banjo. He was employed at Hesston Corporation (now known as AGCO), McPherson Sanitation Department, and most recently, Farmers Alliance.


He was a caregiver for Janet as she fought breast cancer for three years. She passed away on June 9, 2006. As he continued life in McPherson, attending First Baptist Church, he became better acquainted with Mary Shaw, who also had musical interests. When the time was right, he asked Connor, Mary's son, for her hand in marriage and proceeded with his proposal plan, conspiring with Mary's employer, People's Bank & Trust. On a lunch date at Main Street Deli across the street from People's Bank, Will asked about the temperature causing Mary to look across the street and on the People's lighted outdoor marquee sign, she read "Mary, what is your interest in marrying me?" Her reply, "100%." They united their lives in marriage on September 27, 2008, in an outdoor ceremony on a gorgeous fall morning, at the residence of a friend. His family now included two more sons, Ryan and Connor Shaw. He loved Mary's family like his own and loved sharing jokes with Camden, his 11-year-old grandson.


Will loved the outdoors and would never turn down an opportunity to enjoy a campfire, always  bringing his guitar and being the entertainment for the evening. His family will never forget the Father's Day FUNKtion Camp Out at Marion Reservoir when he performed his "Funk Daddy" rap, dressed for the part complete with bling; then the next morning leading the worship service with a well thought out meditation. His repertoire included "De Lime in de Coconut" a camp site favorite, which was always requested by great nieces and nephews. After his vision had declined in 2016, he was asked to play guitar at his Uncle Johnnie Rempel's memorial service. He chose one of his favorite songs that he had memorized and didn't need to see music for; "Come Thou Fount."


When severely impaired vision forced him to retire, he continued his upbeat positive spirit. He did daily walks, continued to do yard work and had meals ready when Mary came home from work. He was legally blind, but spending time around him, one would often forget, because he tried very hard to remain independent.


Will enjoyed day trips to small Kansas towns and rides in the country. He attended weekly meetings with the Band of Brothers at church. Time spent with family and friends was a priority. Morning devotions and daily bible reading started his days off and kept him centered.


Four years after having melanoma removed from his arm, it returned in his brain and lung. He continued his positive attitude through treatment. The death of his son, Marshal, in June of 2022 was an extremely difficult time; and was the beginning of a rapid decline in his health. Mary continued to be a constant helping companion, knowing just how much assistance and independence to give him. When, after scans showed the immunotherapy treatments weren't helping to control the lung cancer, Will went on Hospice care on April 12. Some of his last audible words were, "We will all be together again." He peacefully entered his eternal rest, where "we will all be together again" on Saturday evening April 15, 2023. Praise God for His unspeakable (indescribable) gift! II Corinthians 9:15. Many of us can concur with Mary's sentiments, "I am a better person for having known him." He had a humble spirit and a quiet sense of humor that will be missed by many.


Celebrating his life and mourning his loss are his wife, Mary; her sons, Ryan (Jordan) Shaw, their children, Camden, Emercyn and Nolan of Cheney, Kansas and Connor Shaw of Kansas City, Kansas. Also surviving are his brothers, Gerald (Sharon) of Hillsboro, Kansas, Myron (Rochelle) of Wichita, Kansas, Lyle (Elaine) of Hillsboro, Kansas and sister, Elaine (Jim) Baker of Hillsboro, Kansas, his aunt, Lenora Gehring of Moundridge, Kansas, nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.


Preceding him in death were his parents, Roy and Mary Ann (Rempel) Funk, first wife, Janet (Schmidt) Funk, and son, Marshal Craig Funk.


A graveside service will be held at 9:30 AM, Friday, April 21, at the McPherson Cemetery, followed by a memorial service at 11:00 AM, Friday, at the First Baptist Church with Pastor John Pattison officiating.  To view a live stream broadcast of the service, please click on the following link:


Memorial donations may be given to the First Baptist Church in care of Stockham Family Funeral Home, 205 North Chestnut, McPherson, KS 67460.

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Graveside Service

Friday, April 21, 2023

Starts at 9:30 am (Central time)

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Memorial Service

Friday, April 21, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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