Richard “Rich” J. Willert, age 79, of Yankton, South Dakota, died peacefully at his home surrounded by his family and covered with a blanket of love and prayers on March 20, 2021.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. on April 10, 2021, at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Yankton, South Dakota with Reverend Tom Anderson and Bishop William Dendinger officiating. The Mass will be livestreamed and can be viewed on Rich’s obituary page at www.wintzrayfuneralhome.com. Burial will be in the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Yankton.
The family will receive friends from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on April 9, 2021 at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home followed by a rosary and vigil service at 7:00 p.m.
Pallbearers will be his grandchildren: Nicholas Huber, Trevor Huber, Brittney McGrath and Cameron Stark. Honorary pallbearers will be his Kaiser Heating and Cooling co-workers and his golfing buddies.
Richard Joseph Willert was born September 6, 1941 in Columbus, Nebraska, to Meredith and Elizabeth (McCluskey) Willert. When Rich was ten, his family moved to Yankton, South Dakota, where his dad started Willert’s Tastee Treet. Rich attended school in Yankton and graduated from Yankton High School in 1959. He then studied mechanical engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines. He returned to Yankton and started working at M-Tron as a manufacturing engineer. While at M-Tron he developed and received a patent for an electronic air purifier. He married Joan Tamisiea on June 25, 1963 in Yankton and together they had two children Jon and Julie. He later began working at Larson Brothers Heating and Cooling in Yankton until it closed. He then started working at Kaiser Heating and Cooling in Yankton. After semi-retiring in 2003, he enjoyed working part time at Kaiser Heating and Cooling almost until his passing. He married Nancy Hastert on October 29, 2004 in Yankton.
Rich was a member of St. Benedict Catholic Church, Hillcrest Country Club and the Yankton Elks Lodge. He was a very intelligent man and his friends often referred to him as a book of knowledge. He had a love of learning and became an expert in the HVAC industry. Due to his love of learning, he had many interests including reading, visiting art museums and air museums, faithfully reading and watching the news, sailing, cars, aviation and flying with Rolly Goeden, traveling (with Australia being his favorite destination), hiking in the Colorado mountains, architecture, astronomy, tennis, attending Berkshire Hathaway conventions, a life time love of golf and going for rides in his little red Miata convertible. He was a huge Yankton Bucks fan and didn’t miss watching/listening to the games. Favorite times were times spent with family and friends. Rich was an honest, hardworking man who loved his family. He will be greatly missed.
Blessed to have shared his life are his survivors which include his wife, Nancy Willert of Yankton, South Dakota; two children: Jon (Lisa) Willert of Gretna, Nebraska and Julie (Wayne) Huber of Gayville, South Dakota; four grandchildren: Cameron (Stefanie), Nicholas, Brittney (James) and Trevor; three great grandchildren: Silas, Adelaide and Bryten; brother, Timothy “Tim” Willert of New York City, New York; sister, JoAnn (Terry) Lane of Sioux City, Iowa; brothers and sisters-in-law: Alana Tamisiea, Gail (Bob) Wittenbrink, Chuck (Judy) Hastert, Mary Ann (Art) Roberts and Jane (Lynn) Braband; and many nieces and nephews.
Preceding him in death are his first wife, Joan Willert, and his parents, Meredith and Elizabeth Willert.
The family wishes to express their sincere thanks and gratitude to the hospital and Hospice staff, respite care nurses and the many family and friends who provided their support, care and love.
To send an online message to the family, please visit www.wintzrayfuneralhome.com.
Yankton Press & Dakotan
April 8, 2021