Cover photo for Willard Retherford's Obituary
Willard Retherford Profile Photo

Willard Retherford

March 17, 1923 — April 6, 2024

Willard Retherford

Willard Eugene Retherford, 101, passed away on April 6, 2024, in Hastings, Michigan. Bill was born on March 17, 1923, in Joplin, Missouri to John and Forona (Day) Retherford.   Bill grew up in Arkansas and served overseas in the Army in WWII.

On June 25, 1946, he married Evelyn Minshall and they had five children.  He was baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses on June 22, 1996.  Bill worked at Shakespeare Company in Kalamazoo until he retired in 1985.  After retirement, he enjoyed woodworking and traveling and having many adventures with his wife. Because of his love of his wife’s baked goods, he was coined the name “Cookie Papa”, a title he proudly held.

Bill enjoyed fishing, camping and mushrooming every spring. He also loved sharing his many stories of his Ozark childhood, his WWII experience and his fishing adventures to any visitor that stopped by, and when you did stop by, he was always dressed and ready to "go go".

Bill was preceded in death by his parents; his wife Evelyn; his daughter Karen (Sue) Adrianson; two grandchildren: Michael Retherford Jr.  and David Retherford Jr.   He is survived by his children: Mike (Gloria) Retherford, David (Janet) Retherford, Katie (Bruce) Rose, Carol (Danny) VanAuken. He is also survived by many grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren. Bill's family would like to express their deep appreciation and gratitude to the staff at Thornapple Manor for their loving care for Bill over the years.  The Mill Pond Point staff became Bill's extended family, and it means more than words can express.

Memorial donations can be made in Bill's name to Elara Caring Hospice of Grand Rapids.

While visiting Bill's webpage at please sign the guestbook and/or share a memory with the family.

The family is being assisted by Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Home; 120 S. Woodhams St. Plainwell, MI 49080 (269-685-5881).


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Willard Retherford, please visit our flower store.


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