John Roger Willms, 66, of Knights Ferry, California passed away Saturday, September 9, 2017 in Pleasanton, CA. He was born April 19, 1951 in Oakdale, CA to Raymond and Marjorie Willms. John attended grammar school at Cloverland Elementary in Oakdale, was a 1969 Graduate of Oakdale High School, and Modesto Junior College. After attending MJC, he joined the Army National Guard and got his basic training at Ft. Bragg, NC. John worked at Oakdale Feed and Seed, Bovine Test Center, Hamilton Hay, worked with Algie Pulley (golf course designer) and lastly at Farmers Livestock Market.
When he was younger he worked on the Willms Ranch with his brother, Gary, raising cattle and they decided to change their herd from a regular commercial breed to the European breeds (Simmental, Gelbvieh, and Pinzgauer) as they were dual purpose breeds. John worked as a substitute artificial insemination breeder for dairies in the Central Valley as well as their A I operation at the ranch. At one time, he was the President of the Pinzgauer Association and Cattleman of the Year for the Stanislaus County California Cattlemen’s Association. John was one of three finalists in the State that was nominated for the Beef Farmer Award in 1976.
John was the great grandson of John R. Willms, the pioneer who settled on the ranch in 1852. John was a true cattleman all his life. He loved cattle and living on the Willms Ranch. From a young age, John enjoyed waterskiing, snow skiing, and golfing. John was a simple man who appreciated his alone time yet enjoyed good company. John will be remembered as a kind and gentle man that loved his children and grandchildren. He was a humble man that never complained and took life in stride. His strength up until the end will never be forgotten. John is survived by his two children, Jennifer Hoff (husband Donovan) and Jared Willms (wife Emily); four grandchildren Parker, Mason, Mette and Brock; his three sisters, Shirley McPhee, Barbara Barbagelata, Carolyn Lopez, brother Gary Willms and several nieces and nephews that called him Roger.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Willms Ranch in Knights Ferry, CA on Saturday, October 7, 2017 at noon. Remembrances may be made to your favorite charity in John’s honor.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
Sept. 20, 2017