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Willard John Mattson



Willard John Mattson

ESCANABA — On June 19, 2024, Willard John Mattson, passed into the arms of Jesus to await the blessed Resurrection! Willard was born on February 26, 1937, in Escanaba to Charles Bernhard and Anna Marie (Olsen) Mattson and became a child of God through the waters of baptism as an infant. He grew up on the family farm in Stonington.

Willard graduated as salutatorian of the 1954 class of Rapid River High School. He sailed the Great Lakes on the Marquette and Grand Island from 1957-58. He then worked on various lumberjack jobs, and worked for Pepsi Cola Bottling and Nabisco prior to becoming a firefighter for the City of Escanaba in 1963. Willard served the citizens of Escanaba for 33 years retiring April 1996.

On May 21, 1960, Willard married Joyce Ann (LaFave) at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Escanaba. He served faithfully on the property/management and stewardship committees at Immanuel for many years. He enjoyed playing church league dartball and attending Swedish Club meetings and activities. His leisure time included camping, cheering on the Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers, and picking pints upon pints of blueberries on the Stonington plains.

Willard’s most worthy legacy was his deep, abiding love for his children (grandchildren) and faith in Jesus that he and Joyce together passed onto the next generation. There was no greater gift they gave to their family!

Willard is survived by his wife Joyce, four children, Tina (Mark) Schrader of Thompson Mich., Connie (Michael) Rian of Rapid River Mich., Michael (Martha) Mattson of Alva, Fla., Paul (Cathy Jo) Mattson of Collierville, Tenn.; 11 grandchildren, Brian (Kelli) Helgemo, Sarah (Joshua) Morgan, Jessica Schrader, Jennifer (Greggory) Neville, Christopher (Laura) Mattson, William Kyle Mattson, Lisa (Andrew) Kirt, Rachel (Leon) Garcia, James (Emily Doebler) Schrader, Ryan Mattson, Madeline Mattson; 10 great-grandchildren, Carson/Chase Helgemo, Wyatt/Sophie Kirt, Clara/Henry Morgan, Oliver/Archer Neville, Graham Mattson, Inez Garcia.

Additionally, he is survived by his sister Anita (James) Johnson, sister-in-law Shirley Mattson, brother-in-law Arthur LaFave, and several nieces and nephews.

Willard was predeceased by his parents Ben and Anna Mattson, brother Clifford Mattson, parents-in-law Victor and Fedelia LaFave, brothers-in-law Henry, Clayton, Richard, and Gerald LaFave.

Visitation will be held on Friday, June 28, at Immanuel Lutheran Church from 10 a.m. until time of funeral. The funeral service for Willard John Mattson will be held at 11:30 a.m. with Rev. Mike Markwell officiating. A luncheon will be held immediately following the funeral service. Committal and burial will take place at Gardens of Rest Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church (Building Maintenance Fund – roof project).

The family expresses its heartfelt gratitude to the staff at Lake House Assisted Living and Christian Park Village for their excellent and compassionate care for Willard the past four years.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25

The Anderson Funeral Homes of Escanaba and Gladstone are assisting the Mattson family with the arrangements and online condolences can be sent to the family at

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