Carl "Chuck" Willke

Saturday, July 12th, 1930 - Thursday, February 20th, 2020
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Carl Loren "Chuck" Willke, (89) of Sun City, Arizona died on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at Banner Boswell Hospital in Sun City, Arizona.

Chuck was born July 12, 1930 in Normal, Illinois, the son of Elmer and Esther (Brucker) Willke. He grew up on the family farm near Anchor, Illinois and continued working for his parents on their farm after graduating from the local high school in 1948.

In 1952, he enlisted in the U. S. Air Force. After completing basic training in Texas, he was stationed at Presque Isle AFB in northern Maine until he went to Korea where he spent all of 1954. When he returned from Korea, he was assigned to the Office of Special Investigation in Washington, D.C. for his final year in the USAF.
In 1956, he enrolled for the spring term at the University of Wisconsin, School Of Business at Madison, WI. While at the university, he worked at the campus theater office and was active in the Lutheran Student Association on campus. There he met Sue Goetz. Chuck chose insurance as his major because he wanted to work with computers and only insurance companies and government agencies had them at that time.
During the 1958 summer school break, he participated in a special training program with Aetna Insurance Company at their Los Angeles, CA office. Since he and Sue were engaged at that time and were discussing wedding plans, they decided to get married when Sue graduated from college that June. That summer in Los Angeles was their honeymoon.

After receiving his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1959 and graduating with honors, Chuck began working at Lincoln National Life Insurance Co in Fort Wayne, IN where he received his first training in computer programming. In 1962 he moved his family to San Diego, CA where he designed computer programs for General Dynamics Corp, which was building spacecraft under government contract. When a position became available at the local IBM office in 1964, he was hired to provide customer support and to teach programming classes.

In 1965, he decided that he really preferred to do computer programming so he requested a transfer to the IBM manufacturing plant in San Jose, CA. There he designed and developed programs to automate the manufacturing line for computer products. This computer application was so successful that employees from other IBM facilities in this country and in several foreign countries came to San Jose to learn how to implement it at their locations.

In 1974, for personal reasons, he quit his job at IBM and moved his family to a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin. After a couple of extremely cold winters at the farm, he decided to move back to the west coast and return to computer work. The family moved to Silverton, OR and he worked at a data center in Salem that provided computer support to the City of Salem and Marion County. He retired from there in 1992.
While living in Silverton, he was invited to serve as a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee for development of the Oregon Garden, which was a joint project of the City of Silverton and the Oregon Nurserymen's Association to create a world-class garden in the Silverton area. Members of the committee worked with the various artists and landscape designers who were drawing plans for the gardens and Chuck thoroughly enjoyed his participation in that effort.

Chuck and Sue moved to Hood River in 1996, and in 2000 began spending winter months in Arizona where they shared a home with their daughter and grandson. In 2017 they moved to Arizona full time, and settled in a senior living community in Sun City.

Chuck was a faithful member of his church and was a volunteer at the local FISH community food bank. He was very interested in genealogy and compiled and printed several books tracing family lines back to the early 1500s. He was also an avid gardener, and especially enjoyed working with irises, and hybridized them for many years. He was always ready to share starts of any of his plants with family and friends.
After he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1997, he coped well with it, but it did affect what he was able to do. It eventually caused him to give up driving and his hobbies of photography and working with stained glass.

Chuck is survived by his wife, Sue, of Sun City, AZ; their two sons, Mark (Lisa) Willke, Portland, OR and Douglas (April) Willke, San Tan Valley, AZ; daughter, Elizabeth Willke, Glendale, AZ; granddaughters, Monica and Marissa Willke, both of Portland, OR; grandson, Zachary Tahtinen, of Glendale, AZ; Chuck’s brother, Harold (Nancy) Willke of Pontiac, IL; eight nieces and nephews; and many cousins. His parents preceded him in death.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00am Sunday March 1st, 2020 at Atria Heritage Senior Living (10101 W. Palmeras Drive Sun City, AZ 85373). Pastor Doug Wright will officiate. There will be no visitation. Chuck’s urn will be placed at the Idlewilde Cemetery Mausoleum in Hood River, Oregon.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts received will be put towards a commemorative brick, personalized with Chuck’s name, to benefit and be placed at the Oregon Garden in his memory. Gifts may be also be made to the American Parkinson's Disease Association (C/O Anderson’s Tribute Center 1401 Belmont Ave. Hood River, OR 97031). Cards may be sent to the family at 10101 W. Palmeras Drive Apt. 163 Sun City, AZ 85373).

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