Willard "Willie" James Fossand

Army Badge
  • Name: Willard "Willie" James Fossand
  • Location of Birth: Pinewood, Minnesota
  • Date of Birth: February 22, 1942
  • Date of Death: May 19, 2017 (75 years old)
  • Parents: Tommie Fossand and Gladys (Emery) Fossand
  • High School and Class: 1960 - Bemidji High School, Bemidji, Minnesota
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  • Branch: Army
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  • Military Highlights:
    Willie enlisted in the United States Army, becoming a member of the United States Army's Black Horse Regiment: 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment which serving in Vietnam. While in the service, he earned the title of Army heavyweight-wrestling champion.

  • Wars Involved:
    Vietnam Era

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  • Civilian Life:
    Willie attended a one room elementary school in Pinewood, Minnesota.

    At Bemidji High School, he was renown for his skills on the wrestling mat.

    In May, 1963, Willie married Teri Hansen.

    After active duty, Willie and Teri returned to Minnesota where he became a known face in the Iron Range communities as a meat cutter at local grocery stores and after hours deer butcher for over 30 years.

    Willie served as a supervisor of Greenway Township for 12 years and was an active member of the Pengilly VFW Post 8831 and the Pengilly Booster Club. He and Teri also owned and ran the A&W/Frosty Mug in Nashwauk, Minnesota for several years; solidifying A&W root beer as his beverage of choice for life.

    When not working, and after retiring, Willie was most often found in the great outdoors either hunting, fishing, trapping, gardening, admiring the otters, swans, eagles, deer and ducks along the Mississippi River, or picking worms with the grandkids. He hated TV (other than Twins games). If he had any last words of advice to give, they'd be something along the lines of "turn that darned thing off" followed by the sound of a riding lawn mower engine starting up and him riding off to heaven singing along to Waylon Jennings.

    Willie is preceded in death by his parents, Tommie and Gladys (Emery) Fossand; brother, Gerald Fossand; sister, Peggy Vold; and brother-in-laws Bud Eckblad and Hank Vold.

    Willie is survived by his wife, Teri; sons, Chad and Lance; two grandchildren; a sister, Donna Eckblad and a brother, Bernard (Donna) Fossand.

    Willie, the fishing grandpa, rib-lover, blueberry picker, Twins fan, and original grumpy old man died doing what he loved most--going fishing. After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs, he and his wife of 54 years, Teri, set off for his favorite Red Lake spring fishing, where he suffered a sudden heart attack while putting the boat in the water. He was cremated.

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