Roger Willemsen of Moscow, Idaho was a loving father and brother, an avid outdoorsman, and an inveterate volunteer. He departed this world suddenly, in his home, on December 28, 2021. He was 77 years old.
He was born on January 14, 1944 in Oskaloosa, Iowa, to Warner and Johanna Willemsen. Roger spent his formative years living on the family farm, learning the value of hard work, and teasing his four younger siblings. He left his parents’ home to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology at Central college in Pella, Iowa, then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Biology at Kansas State College in 1968 and a PhD from University of Oklahoma in Plant Physiology and Ecology in 1971. His love of learning was evident throughout his life—he never stopped challenging himself to master new skills.
Roger began his career as an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University and spent the majority of his working life as a Research Manager for various companies all over the United States. He retired in 2010 and, though he was worried about having too much time on his hands, he found himself busier than ever. It was time to fully dive in to his favorite activities: elk, deer, turkey, pheasant, and chukar hunting; fly fishing; jogging; volunteering; and hiking (especially with his beloved hunting dog, Sage). He spent 12 years volunteering with Habitat for Humanity on the “Codger Crew,” where he learned how to build a house from the ground up and found both camaraderie and purpose. In addition, he volunteered for a number of years at the Moscow Methodist Church and at Moscow Rotary Club.
Roger is survived by his children Jeffrey and James, whose mother Karlene was his first wife. In addition, he is survived by his devoted life partner of 11 years, Joy Stansbery Lunsford, and his siblings Don (Joan) Willemsen, Dave (Gloria) Willemsen, Brenda (Maurice) Rykhoek, and Craig (Sparky) Willemsen.
An outdoor memorial service will be held in the late spring or early summer in Moscow, Idaho. The family welcomes donations in Roger’s memory to the Palouse Habitat for Humanity.