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Forest McWilliams - December 24, 2013

Forest Thomas McWilliams died Dec. 24, 2013, in Holyoke, where he had resided for the last 45 years. He was born April 5, 1926, to William and Estella Irma (Wilson) McWilliams.

Raised on a dairy and sugar beet farm near Ault, he graduated from Ault High School in 1944, already attending the University of Dubuque in Iowa under the V-12 Navy College Training program which he completed in June 1945. Forest had lifelong friendships with his fellow “Dubuque Boys,” attending the reunions for many years.

He completed his Bachelor of Science degree at Northwestern University in 1946. After a deployment in the Pacific, he attended Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanics (now Colorado State University), graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree and a major in animal husbandry in 1949. He was a member of Sigma Chi, along with other honorary memberships.

Forest continued his career in the United States Navy Officers Reserves until 1968 at posts in Greeley, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. He attended weekly meetings and annual two-week training duties, attaining the rank of lieutenant commander USNR in 1958.

On July 11, 1948, Forest married Rose Irene Nichols of Olathe. Together they raised three sons, Barry, Bill and Forest Jr.; and a daughter, Tina. Forest was proud of his children and grandchildren and supported them individually in their activities and interests.

His children remember their family camping trips, his many avocations which included gardening, showing grass sheaves, aquariums, railroad modeling with a layout in the basement, his fall elk hunts, black powder guns and his wonderful Christmas displays cut out of plywood.

After a few years raising champion Berkshire hogs in LaSalle and teaching agriculture in a nearby school for veterans, in 1954 Forest started his career with Colorado State University’s Cooperative Extension Service in Colorado Springs, first as an assistant, then in 1959 as the county agent for El Paso County.

In 1968, Forest moved to Holyoke as a county agent and livestock specialist for the five-county Golden Plains Area until his retirement in 1984. In 1970, Forest got his Master of Science degree from Colorado State University. He was an active member of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.

During his years with the Extension Service, with a talent for sharing new ideas, he improved farm and ranch productivity, as well as engaged in various research projects. Forest had significant impact with youth through 4-H and Future Farmer programs—coaching livestock judging teams—and some of these youth became lifelong friends.

One of them, Jerry Haynes, said, “Today I lost a great friend, coach, mentor and hunting partner. His knowledge of mathematics led him to be the father of the Beef Expo and the Northeast Colorado Bull Test. RIP Forest McWilliams, you will be missed, you will never be forgotten!!”

In demand as a livestock judge at many county fairs, he was particularly involved with El Paso County and Phillips County fairs, with various Cattlemen’s associations and the Great Western Beef Expo. For many years, Forest was livestock superintendent at the Colorado State Fair and the National Western Stock Show. Forest received numerous commendations for his many years of service to Colorado agriculture.

After his retirement, Forest served in VFW Post 6482 and worked with Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever; he planted many miles of trees in Phillips County to provide roadside wildlife habitat. He enjoyed reading, coffee with friends and attending his granddaughters’ sports events.

Forest was preceded in death by his parents, and his wife in 2012.

Forest is survived by a brother, Floyd Alan McWilliams of Greeley; four children, Barry Kent McWilliams of Everett, Wash., William James McWilliams of Madison, Wis., Forest Thomas McWilliams Jr. of Holyoke and Tina Rae Thompson of Holyoke; 13 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Forest was to be privately laid to rest at Holyoke Memorial Park on Jan. 2. A memorial service will be held in Holyoke on the evening of Friday, Jan. 10.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Holyoke VFW Scholarship Fund, 229 E. Denver St., Holyoke, CO 80734.

Baucke Funeral Home was entrusted with the arrangements.