Arthur Willing was a natural storyteller who loved to tell tall tales and stories with “a little bit of truth in them,” said his wife, Helen Willing.
“He liked to tell the stories from the first person,” she said. “He made them personal. Some were made up, some were tall tales, but they all had a little bit of truth and a sense of humor about them.”
Arthur Willing, 86, of Valparaiso, died Sept. 6. He worked for Pullman Standard in Chicago and Continental Diamond Fiber as an engineer. He also taught at River Forest School for almost 30 years, retiring in 1987.
He was a 1944 Valparaiso High School graduate. He was a 1947 graduate of Purdue University and earned his master’s degree from Valparaiso University.
He was founder and first president of Friends of the Indiana Dunes and the Northwest Indiana Story Tellers Association. He also had been president of Porter County Park Board. For several years, he was a storyteller on a local television station.
Willing said her husband enjoyed combining his love of storytelling with his other hobby, woodworking. He did many demonstrations at festivals around the area.
“He loved the Bill Grogan’s Goat story, so he made pieces of the goat, the three shirts on the line, and a black train engine,” she said. “He enjoyed telling stories, and enjoyed seeing the kids enjoy his stories so much.”
In addition to small figures, he crafted clocks and other knickknacks. He also handmade a set of cabinets for his home, his wife said.
“He generally tried something once and then went on to something new,” she said.
His other passion was creating parks, and was instrumental in making Sunset Hill Farm a county park.
“He knew parks were important for the future,” she said. “He wanted to take any property that people were willing to donate and turn it into something that could be appreciated by many people in the future.”