GRAND MARSHALLS OF WALKER FUN DAYS 2023 – The Walker Community Betterment Association elected Gilbert and Eleanor Willson to be the Grand Marshalls of Walker Fun Days 2023.

Gilbert is a Vernon County native being born and reared near Metz where he graduated in 1959.

His great-grandfather, Robert Louis Willson, and great-grandmother, Agness Bickett married in 1871 in Randolf County, Illinois. They came immediately after their marriage in a covered wagon to Badger Township in Vernon County and homesteaded 40-acre farm five miles south of Walker corner.

Gilbert married Eleanor McDermott Oct. 21, 1960. A few years later, they purchased their first farm southwest of Walker about 2 miles and continue to live there.

Eleanor is the bookkeeper for the farm and worked for 33 years as a certified public accountant doing income taxes with her specialty being taxes related to farming.

When the couple started out at “zero”, Gilbert worked for the Missouri Highway Department for eight years, farmed rented ground on nights and weekends. In 1970, he started a fertilizer business. He was the first farmer in Vernon County to go into ridge-till farming. No one was selling ridge till equipment in this vicinity so Gilbert started another business.

Gilbert has found time for civic duties. He served on the Walker School Board for 12 years, six of them he was president, during that time, there were lots of school improvements. He served 21 years on the Sac Osage Board, on the KAMO Board, President Credit Association Advisory Board, and has been a Walker Township Board Member. They have received awards at both the local and state levels: Vernon County Chamber of Commerce Farmer of the Year, State Conservation Farmer of the Year-1987, and University of Missouri Curator’s Honor Roll, 1988, to name a few. During all of this time, Eleanor has been at his side helping, working preparing taxes for people, serving in the Walker Parents Teacher Organization (PTO), Band Parents, while serving as a room mother and keeping the home fires burning.

They had two children Deborah Ann (Debbie) born April 16, 1962, and |Robert Lee (Robbie) born April 11, 1970. Debbie married and taught in the Walker School for some time before she and her husband moved to near Albuquerque, New Mexico where she taught school and her husband worked in construction. They had no children.

Robbie married and taught in the Walker School for a while before his health made it impossible.

Sadly, both Debbie and Robbie passed away within a year of each other. Robbie Dec. 5, 2014, and Debbie July 29, 2015.

However, Robbie had four daughters and they are the love and joy of Gilbert and Eleanor’s lives. Kelsie is 25 years old and a Digital Marketing Specialist at The Communications Group, Little Rock, AR. Emily is 23 and a nurse at KU Med Center in Kansas City. Breanne is 18 and a freshman at Mo S and T in Rolla, MO. Claire is 16 and a junior at Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, KS. Gilbert and Eleanor keep busy attending all the various events in which the girls participate.

Eleanor has retired from the tax business. Gilbert retired from farming. However, Gilbert bought a bulldozer and likes to spend time on it unless they are traveling or enjoying Branson shows. They continue to do service for their community in various ways.

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