Walter Fred Preston, age 85, of Seligman, Missouri, passed away on April 7, 2011, at the Mercy Medical Center in Rogers, Arkansas.
Mr. Preston, son of William Walter and Helen Eva (Montgomery) Preston, was born on November 21, 1925, in the Seligman area. Fred met his future wife, Erma Jean Mitchell, on their first day at school in Seligman. Because of his father's health, Fred, as a young boy, was responsible for many things, including helping his parents on their family farm. He attended Seligman High School and then enlisted in the United States Army serving in World War II in Korea. Because of his ability to repair anything, he was assigned to the motor pool. He contracted malaria while in Korea and spent six months on the USS Comfort recuperating.
Upon his return from the service, he helped his father operate the family saw mill, drove a gas truck for Dick Webb, and was employed by Bill Hailey at his automobile dealership and his tractor company. He also took a correspondence course for the repair of televisions and always seemed to be working on someone's radio or television. Because of his mechanical abilities, he was also called upon by numerous family members and friends to fix anything and everything.
Fred and his wife Erma Jean loved spending their time attending their grandchildren's sports activities showing their support and being their #1 fan. One of his passions was his garden and the citizens of Seligman have always enjoyed seeing his very attractive garden plot on Highway 37. Another of his passions was music. He has always played the fiddle and he and his father "Uncle Bill" were members of a band which played primarily at Westport near Monett and the Cowboy Inn in Seligman. More recently, he and Cleva have enjoyed dancing at several area Senior Citizen Centers. Fred was a member of the First Baptist Church in Seligman, a charter member of the Seligman Lions Club, and a 50-year member of the American Legion Post # 118 in Cassville.
The childhood friendship of Walter and Erma Jean turned to love and they were married on January 5, 1945 at the First Baptist Church in Rogers, Arkansas; they celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary prior to her death on August 29, 2009. He married Cleva (Greek) Poe on May 12, 2010, and she survives.
Additional survivors include: one son, Phillip R. Preston, and his wife, Kaye, of Madison, Alabama; one daughter, JoHannah Close, and her husband, Phillip, of Racine, Missouri; two grandchildren, Wade Walter Preston and Alex Renee Close; four step-children, Freddie Poe, of Cassville, and Sonja Green, Teddy and Eddy Poe, all of Seligman; several step-grandchildren; several step-great-grandchildren; two sisters, Mildred Vanderpool, of Medford, Oregon, and Geneva Rains, of Arkansas City, Kansas; his sister-in-law, Loretta Mitchell, of Seligman; several nieces and nephews; and several great-nieces and great-nephews.
In addition to his parents and his wife, Erma Jean, he was also preceded in death by two sisters, Mary Findley and Grace Hawk. Graveside services will be held on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 10:00 am at the Seligman Cemetery with Pastor Russell Bishop officiating. Military Funeral Honors will be conducted by the Army National Guard Juliet Team of Joplin, Missouri. The family received friends from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12th at the White Funeral Home in Cassville. Memorials may be entrusted to the White Funeral Home for the Seligman Cemetery or the Ronald McDonald House of Joplin, Missouri.