Willard "Willie" James FossandFebruary 22, 1942 ~ May 19, 2017 (age 75)
Willie Fossand, (75) 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.
Born in Pinewood, Willie attended the one room elementary schoolroom there. He graduated from Bemidji High School in 1960, renowned for his skills on the wrestling mat. Willie was a member of the US Army’s Black Horse Regiment: 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, earning the title of Army heavyweight-wrestling championship and serving in Vietnam. In May 1963, Willie married his high-school sweetheart, Teri Hansen. After active duty, he and Teri returned to Minnesota where Willie became a known face in iron range communities as a meat-cutter at local grocery stores and after-hours deer butcher for over 30 years. He served as a Greenway Township Supervisor for 12 years and was an active member of Pengilly VFW Post 8831 and the Pengilly Booster Club. He and Teri also owned and ran the A&W/Frosty Mug in Nashwauk 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); we imagine 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 parents, Tommie and Gladys (Emery) Fossand, brother Gerald Fossand, sister Peggy Vold, and brother-in-laws Bud Eckblad and Hank Vold. He is survived by his wife, Teri Fossand of Bemidji, MN; son Chad Fossand of Aurora, CO; son Lance (Karla) Fossand and grandchildren Ellen and Derek Fossand of Tel Aviv, Israel; sister Donna Eckblad of San Dimas, CA; and brother Bernard (Donna) Fossand of Bemidji, MN.