Cover photo for Willard Bright's Obituary
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1935 Willard 2023

Willard Bright

August 9, 1935 — January 20, 2023

Independence, Kansas

Willard A. Bright, 87, of Independence, KS passed away peacefully on Friday, January 20, 2022, at Medicalodges in Independence, KS. He was born on Aug. 9, 1935, in Hale, Kansas to John and Lola Bright. He was the youngest of 7 children. In his younger years, he enjoyed playing sports and tricking people with his twin brother, Wilbur. After graduating from Elk City High School in 1953, Willard joined the United States Navy in February of 1954, serving as a store keeper, keeping provision records on the USS Whiteside (aka Mighty Ninety), which was a cargo and transport ship. The ship was known as

the work horse of the Pacific Ocean, delivering food and ammunition to where the troops were

located. Willard’s Navy nickname was “Sunshine”. He received his honorable discharge from the Navy in

December,1957. He loved his time in the Navy and was proud to serve his country.

Willard married his high school sweetheart, Sara Marr on December 26, 1957, at the First

Christian Church in Elk City, KS. They lived in Independence, KS where Willard attended

Independence Community College and later transferring to Pittsburg State University. In 1961, he

graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Accounting.

His first accounting job was in Erie, KS where he worked for the Neosho Valley

Creamery. After working at different accounting position’s they moved back to Elk City in 1968, and

he managed the Elk City First National Bank. While working in Elk City, the family lived on Alva and Helen Marr’s dairy farm. Everyone enjoyed living on the farm and all the adventures it offered.

In 1982, Willard began his employment at Union Gas and the family moved to Independence where he eventually retired in October, 1997.

Willard and Sara recently celebrated their 65 years of marriage. In their 65 years, they

created a life of love and laughter with 4 children, 10 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.

He enjoyed playing dominoes and cards with family and friends. He was the scorekeeper, which explains how he always seemed to win. He had a passion for music and loved listening to his favorite pianist, his

wife, Sara. Willard and Sara, during retirement, spent quality time together doing some traveling, restoring antique trunks, and watching sporting events. In his later years, he really enjoyed working jigsaw puzzles.

Willard is a member of Carson Lodge #132 in Elk City and a member of the First Christian Church in Independence, KS.

Survivors are his wife, Sara, his four children, Doug (Debbie), Nowata, OK; Chloe Bright, Hannibal, MO; Scott (Shannon), Moberly, MO; Denise (Doug) Hadley, Overland Park, KS. Also surviving is his sister, Margaret Vestal, Independence, KS and many nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great

grandchildren. His parents and 5 siblings preceded him in death as well as his grandson, Chase Anderson.

Visitation will be at Webb & Rodrick, Sunday, January 29, 2023, 2:00 – 4:00. Memorial service will be at Webb & Rodrick Monday, January 30, 2023, 10:00 a.m. Graveside services will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery, Elk City, KS.

In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested memorial donations to the First Christian Church, Independence, KS or FORPAZ (Friends of Riverside Park and Zoo), Independence, KS. Donations may be sent to Webb & Rodrick Funeral Home, 306 West Main, Independence, KS 67301.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Willard Bright, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, January 29, 2023

2:00 - 4:00 pm (Central time)

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Memorial Service

Monday, January 30, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

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Graveside Service

Monday, January 30, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Oak Hill Cemetery

, Elk City, KS 67344

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