Submitted by his children
Our Dad‚ Max B. Willard‚ died in the line of duty while fighting a 350-acre forest fire that burned in the Marvin-Shortt Gap area of Buchanan County‚ Virginia. He served his country and community. Dad was a United States Army veteran of the Korean Conflict and a 30-year volunteer fireman and EMT (serving 10 years as Chief) with the Oakwood Volunteer Fire Department and a member of the Oakwood Lions Club‚ Shriners and the American Legion. A past member of the Buchanan County Planning Commission and was on the Social Services Board. He also maintained a full-time profession as an accountant.
Dad had three passions 1) the love of life‚ 2) his family and 3) his community. He led an extremely active life‚ very little seemed to slow him down. He had a ‘work-hard‚ play-hard’ attitude. He loved being with family and friends out on the golf course‚ skiing down a mountain or deer hunting. At the age of 69‚ he was just beginning to think about slowing down.
Many of those who attended Dad’s funeral spoke to us about the role he played in their lives. Most said he was a ‘father figure’ to them. He was always there to give a helping hand or advice (which he so loved to do whether solicited or not!). Dedication always comes to mind when thinking about our father. He put his life on the line often to help others. A childhood friend of ours said he saved her life and she is forever grateful.
A representative from the Department of Forestry spoke about his dedication and explained to us that dad knew what he was doing that day when he picked up the fire rake and headed up the mountain to the fire. He was doing a job he loved to do.
Dad‚ you will forever be in our hearts.