Ervin L. Willard, 73, a career professional with the US Department of Agriculture, passed away at his home in Uvalde, Texas, on Saturday, December 1, 2012, following a lengthy battle with Parkinson's disease. He was born on November 22, 1939, in Aberdeen, Texas.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held Tuesday, December 4, 2012, at the First Baptist Church in Uvalde, 220 North High Street at 2:00 PM.
Mr. Willard was a graduate of Texas Tech University where he studied Range Science and graduated in 1962. He began his 36-year long career with USDA with the former Soil Conservation Service (SCS) in the Panhandle town of Clarendon. Following assignments in Wheeler, Matador, and Levelland, he was promoted in 1978 to District Conservationist in San Antonio, directing the application of agricultural conservation work in Bexar County. In 1981, he was named Area Conservationist for the Uvalde Area, managing the the field office operations in numerous counties in the Texas Hill Country and Southwest Texas.
He is best remembered for his dedication to the formation of the Seco Creek Water Quality Demonstration Project in Medina County and the Alamo Resource Conservation and Development Area as well as numerous achievements of promoting conservation practices on hundreds of farms and ranches in both the Panhandle and Southwest Texas. He worked with both landowners and units of government, seeking to conserve and protect the quality of water in the Edwards Aquifer. Following the passage of the 1996 Farm Bill, the name of the SCS was changed to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). He retired from NRCS in 1997 serving as Assistant State Conservationist. He was a longstanding member of the Soil and Water Conservation Society and the National Association of Conservation Districts.
In retirement, he maintained his interest in agriculture by raising angora show goats. In recent years, he shifted to the meat industry by raising Boer goats for show and breeding. His animals were the recipients of numerous awards. His other interests included antique collecting and family genealogy. His research traced the family back to Maryland and then to France where the family had ties to the Huguenots.
He is survived by Wanda, his wife of 46 years, their son Zane Willard and his wife DeDe of San Angelo, and three grandchildren Cannon Willard and Morgan and McCall Miller. In addition, he is survived by his three brothers: Earl Willard and wife Ruby of Missoula, Montana, children John Willard and Brenda Ownbey; Jimmy Willard and wife Donna of Waco, Texas, children Darren and Eric Willard; and Bobby Willard of Vernon, Texas. Additionally, two sisters: Marilyn Wallace and husband Dennis of Vernon, children Jeremy Wallace and Stacy Nabors; and Karen Lance and husband Lyndon of Quanah, Texas, children Shane, Randon and Andrew Lance. Also, his special sister-in-law Nelda Wagoner of Ozona, Texas.
Memorials to further agricultural support of youth in Uvalde and surrounding counties may sent to either the Uvalde County Livestock Show, First State Bank of Uvalde, PO Box 1908, Uvalde, TX 78801 or the Big Springs Ranch for Children (Leakey, Texas) in care of Hill Country Youth Ranch, PO Box 67, Ingram TX 78025.
Expressions of condolence and sympathy may be sent to 2658 Garner Field Road, Uvalde, TX 78801.