Mr. Christopher George Willard, 42, of Nolensville, Tennessee passed away on Thursday, August 3, 2023. He was born in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, September 14, 1980. Preceding him in death were his grandfathers, Sam Willard and John Herrera.
He is survived by his significant other, Heather Willard; children, Chris (Annie) Willard of La Vergne, Shalyn Willard of Murfreesboro, and Kallie Willard of Florence, Alabama; father, James (Judy) Willard of Morrison; mother, Roxanna (Dale Brady) Willard of Kentucky; siblings, Brandon Willard and Amber (Devin Hall) Willard both of Nashville; granddaughter, Mya Willard of La Vergne; grandmothers, Dorothy Scott of Murfreesboro and Ellie Herrera of California; nieces, Kira Keene and Marley Willard of Nashville, and several aunts, uncles, cousins and other nieces and nephews.
Christopher was rough around the edges but had a heart of gold. His calloused exterior came from years of working in construction doing office remodels and working in the garage doing auto body work. There wasn't much he couldn't repair or rebuild. Growing up at the race track, Christopher learned from an early age his need for speed and appreciation for skill.
A lot of weekends were spent at the track with his dad, and when James decided to quit racing in 2010, Christopher was quick to jump at the opportunity to continue the family legacy. One of their first races was at the Smyrna Speedway, which now is the home of the Nissan Activity Center pool. The family tradition was racing stock cars, and Christopher race his dad's Sportsman.
7 must have been quite the lucky number because even though Christopher only got to race about 15 times in his life, he always finished toward the front. It took some time to get Christopher trained to not look in the rearview mirror while driving. He snagged the win on the race where it clicked, but the temptation to look back was greater than usual with someone hitting him in the bumper. James reminded him not to worry about what was behind him but to worry about what was in front of him. Crossing the line with his bumper hanging, lucky number 7 finally took the first-place seat.
Now when Christopher wasn't working, building, rebuilding, racing, or strategizing, he enjoyed slowing down for a while and going to car shows, playing disc golf, or shooting pool. Again, his appreciation for skill came into play, and his technique earned him a spot in his hobbies at the front of the pack. With a competitor's spirit, it may be difficult to think of Christopher having a soft side, but all you had to do was see him around his kids.
The big, strong grizzly bear often became a bit more akin to a teddy bear with his children, especially once Mya came along. Christopher loved his family and would cut up and be silly with them. He was someone who strived to keep everyone smiling, but his kids returned the favor when they showed interest in Christopher's hobbies.
Go-cart racing topped the list of favorite memories with their dad. Christopher was energized and motivated to get Mya in a go-cart all of her own to carry on that tradition. Speaking of tradition, you might wonder about the actual Willard Family racing tradition. Well, it lives on through Shalyn. She decided working construction and racing were the way to go in life, and Chris and Annie are sure to have the 4th generation in training with Mya.
There are many things that Christopher will be remembered for during his short time on this earth. Skillful construction and auto body work, talented racing, a good game of disc golf and pool, a competitive spirit, a goofball personality, may come to the minds of people first, but probably the most important to him would be that he was the best Opa. It is with broken hearts that his family lays him to rest.
Graveside services will be Friday, August 11, 2023 at 12 pm at Riverside Cemetery. Chris's aunt, Karen Wolfe, will officiate.
Share memories and condolences at www.gentrysmithfuneralhome.com Gentry-Smith Funeral Home, 303 Murfreesboro Rd. Woodbury, TN 37190, 615-563-5337 Because every life has a story