b. 17 Nov 1918, d. 22 Sep 2006. Charles Sidney Willsher, “Charley”, was born to Robert and Minnie (Rand) Willsher in Mason City, IA. He moved with his parents and sister, Amy, to Windom, MN in 1922. He graduated from Windom High School in 1937 and worked at the Lewis and Lewis Drug Store until enlisting in the U.S. Army on 15 Jan 1942.
During World War II, Charley served as Battalion Sergeant Major for 2 years for the 3rd Battalion Hq. Co. 60th Inf. 9th Div. He saw combat in Algeria, French Morocco, Tunisia where he was wounded twice, Sicily, Normandy, Rhineland, and Ardennes. He received several medals for his service including: Distinguished Service Cross which is awarded for “extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States”, Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters for being wounded twice, EAMET Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Bronze Service Arrowhead, Combat Infantry Badge, and 5 Overseas Service Bars. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1945.
His experience in World War II impacted his entire life, and in later years he wrote about his experiences and shared that information with area organizations and schools.
In 1945 he returned to Windom where he became employed by the N. W. Bell Telephone Company. During his early years of employment, he worked as a lineman. By the time he retired in 1980, he had worked in several areas of the company including being an electrician.
On 25 Jan 1946, he married Norma “Jean” Jacobson and they had one daughter, Janelle Kaye.
During his lifetime, Charles was active in his church and community. He belonged to the United Methodist Church, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, 9th Division, Royal Arch Masons, Communication Workers of America, Telephone Pioneers of America, Golden Kiwanis, and the Cottonwood County Historical Society.
When not working or involved in community activities, Charley could be found in his carpentry shop. He enjoyed making items out of wood for his family and friends, and often helped his neighbors and friends by doing restoration work. He especially loved refinishing antique oak furniture. A project sponsored by the Telephone Pioneers of America that Charley and Jean were particularly proud of was making teddy bears for children who were traumatized. He also volunteered his time to “Meals on Wheels” and to anyone who needed his services.
In April of 2003, Charles moved into the Minnesota Veterans Home in Luverne. He passed away there on 22 Sep 2006 at the age of 87. He is buried at Lakeview Cemetery at Windom, MN.
Charley’s memoir of his war experience is in Reconciliation with War: A Family Journey, a book detailing the life of the Willsher family before, during, and after WWII, and his original typewritten account is available at CCHS.