In Memoriam: John Willard

Retired Quad-City Times local history columnist John Willard passed away on October 30th, 2017 at the age of 74. Mr. Willard frequently used our resources to do research for his weekly column, “Backward Glances” and other features.

John Michael Willard was born on March 29, 1943 in Oak Park, Illinois and grew up in Chicago. He graduated from Lyons Township High School (La Grange, IL) in 1961. After high school, John attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he majored in English and participated in ROTC.

Second Lieutenant Willard served 22 months in Korea, writing intelligence and propaganda stories. He volunteered for Vietnam, arriving just before the Tet Offensive of 1968. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]; Tabulae 1961, Lyons Township High School, La Grange, IL

Upon his return from the war in 1969, he began his newspaper career working for UPI in Des Moines. John was then hired by the Quad-City Times in November 1970.

Willard started out as a general assignment reporter, covering Davenport Police, City Hall and Scott County government. He was soon writing feature stories on local historical figures, events and landmarks. His favorite topics to write about were historic buildings, musicians, veterans, and minorities. 

John Willard retired from the Quad-City Times in 2007 after 34 years of service. Over the last ten years he continued to write guest columns for the newspaper.

“[…] history in the news, history in the familiar (such as a local landmark), history that touches lives and triggers memories.”


(posted by Cristina)


Works Cited

Gaul, A. (2007, February 13). ‘The complete reporter’: Willard to retire after 36 years at Q-C Times. Quad-City Times, p. D1.

Gaul, A. (2017, November 2). Reporter told stories of Q-C people, places. Quad-City Times, p. A3.

John M. Willard. (2017, November 2). Quad-City Times, p. A8.

U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database online]; Tabulae. (1961). Retrieved from

US Army Military Registers, 1798-1969. (1969). Retrieved from Fold3.

This entry was posted in Local History and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *