Obituary of Rev. Teddy Lee Willingham
March 4, 1929 – March 3, 2023 (age 93)
Teddy Lee Willingham passed away after a brief illness on Friday, March 3, 2023 surrounded by his children and the loving staff of the Parkwood Mennonite Home. Ted died one day shy of his 94th birthday. Known for his boundless optimism, adventuresome spirit, and deep caring for others, he is now in a place where he can fully be his exuberantly extroverted self.
The son of James Robert and Belva Willingham, Ted was born in Emmett, Idaho. He graduated from Pacific Bible College (now Azusa Pacific University) and was ordained to the ministry in 1951 alongside his wife, Erma Ruth (Acheson) Willingham. Together, they pastored churches in California and Idaho. In 1963 they moved to Canada where they pastored Wesleyan churches in Lion's Head and Toronto, Ontario, and Shawville, Quebec. In 1985 Ted completed Ontario chaplaincy certification at the Rideau Regional Centre. He then served as Chaplain at the Midwestern Regional Centre, where he thrived on pastoring adults with developmental disorders. After 25 years in Palmerston, Ted and Ruth moved to Waterloo for their final years.
A servant-leader, Ted focused on what God was doing in the lives of people around him. His ministry was marked by creativity and faithful shepherding. He was a gifted handy-man and blessed countless people with his ability to repair or build almost anything. In declining years, he often talked about time he spent walking alongside people in recovery from addiction. To the end, he still sensed the urge to minister, often remarking as he gazed across the room, “I would love to work with those people.”
Ted is survived by his twin sister, Betty Acheson of Emmett Idaho; his children, Lee (Eva), Steven (Kathy), and Laurel (Gary); and his grandchildren, Geoffrey (Paola), Amanda, Jessica, Julia, Jonathan, Alan (Olayinka), Brian, Leah, and Nora, and six great-grandchildren.
The family is planning a celebration of Ted’s life later this spring. They suggest that donations be made in Ted’s memory to the Parkwood Mennonite Home.