Photos courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project
Photos courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project

Niobrara County Library - Willis Clinton "Bill" Kilmer (October 4, 1901 - May 4, 1952)

Willis Clinton "Bill" Kilmer (October 4, 1901 - May 4, 1952)

The Lusk Herald
May 8, 1952

Willis Kilmer Dies Sunday of Heart Attack

Willis (Bill) Kilmer, president of the Kilmer Corporation, died of a heart attack at Niobrara Memorial Hospital about 9:00 Sunday evening after being seriously ill for a week.

He was active manager of the Golden Rule store which is a part of the corporation and since 1935 has been a part of building an enterprise that now also includes one of Wyoming's most modern dairies, at Lusk a dairy farm, the Plains Equipment Co. in Lusk.

Funeral services were being held this Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 o'clock with Lusk businesses closing during that period. Rev. Jacob Nein, pastor of the Congregational Church, was conducting the service with the B.P.O. Elks Lodge conducting graveside srvices.

Casket bearers were C.D. Jennewein, Joe Currey, Si Bonner, Keith Barbee, all of Lusk, and John Foutch and Don Miller of Thermopolis. A quartet composed of Eldon Froke, Don Housh, Rex Yocum and Don Unruh sang "Going Down the Valley" and "Beyond the Sunset." Mrs. J.P. Watson was accompanist.

Willis Clinton Kilmer was born on a Custer County, Nebr. farm Oct. 4, 1901, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Wesley Kilmer. His education was confined to the rural schools, and thus his later business accomplishment was by the route of experience.

For a time he and his brother, Roscoe, operated a store near Arnold, Nebr. In 1930 when Roscoe came to Lusk to operate the Cooperative creamery here, Willis went back to the farm.

He was married Feb. 20, 1932 to Miss Frances Foley at Arnold. In 1935 they moved to Lusk where Willis and Roscoe took over the struggling creamery. In 1940 the dairy farm south of Lusk was purchased from the Barber estate. In 1944 the Kilmer brothers purchased the Golden Rule store at Lusk and shortly later purchased another Golden Rule store at Thermopolis which Willis managed for two years. When the business thre was sold he returned to Lusk to manage the Lusk store.

The Kilmer Corporation was formed in 1945. By 1949 a new creamery building had been erected, one of the most modern in the entire state. In November of 1949 the firm purchased the Plains Equipment in Lusk, which Willis has assisted in until his death. C.D. Jennewein is manager and part owner of Plains Equipment. Though not in the corporation the Kilmer brothers are also associated in the Golden West Dairy at Torrington.

Mr. Kilmer was a quiet unassuming man, whose business and family were almost his entire interest though he still greatly loved any type of agricultural life. He was a member of the Lusk B.P.O. Elks Lodge.

Surviving Mr. Kilmer besides his wife, are two children, Willis Eugene (Billy), a student at the University of Wyoming, and Kay, a student in Lusk High School. Because she is a member of Jobs Daughters, that group was attending the funeral services in a body.

His father of Arnold, five brothers and a sister are also living. The brothers are Clarence E., Arnold, Venus C. and Myron E. of Lusk. The sister is Mrs. Mary Atterbery of Van Nuys, Calif.

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