When Willie first became a supervisor and Pathfinders Board member in 2000, he was not familiar with our organization. However, he soon took an active interest in Pathfinders’ activities, and it was thanks to Willie’s initiative that the Buy Fresh, Buy Local program was started in southeast Iowa.
A current Pathfinders undertaking Willie is happy to see transforming Mahaska County is the many abandoned mine land reclamation sites. While there are abandoned mine lines all over the state, Mahaska and Marion Counties have a very high proportion of them. “Pathfinders is made up of 6 counties and our counties are the same, but they’re also different. We want to let the public know about the different projects we have going on in each county.”
Willie grew up in Mahaska County, outside of Oskaloosa. After serving in the Air Force, he returned to the area and raised his family there. Today, 2 of his 3 daughters live in the area, with two great-grandchildren on the way to join the ranks of 9 grandchildren!
Farming was the family trade for years, and even after scaling down, Willie still maintains a prolific 12 acres. “I love gardening and like to keep friends and family stocked with fruit and vegetables.” He is particularly proud of his watermelon haul in 2017, despite the drought.