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Jack Willett; County Native, Cattleman

Ventura County native Jack Willett died Thursday at his Santa Paula home. He was 86.

Willett was born Feb. 25, 1912, in Santa Paula and lived on his parents’ Wheeler Canyon Ranch. The Willett family has substantial history in the area that included Willett’s grandfather driving a wagon train to Ventura in 1871 and settling in what is now known as Willett Tank Farm on Ventura Avenue.

At the Wheeler Canyon Ranch, Willett raised sheep, pigs and cattle. Cattle grazed on property in the Sespe Mountains that had been homesteaded by Willett’s grandfather.

The “J Heart” brand on cattle was recognized throughout the county, the family said.

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Willett was also a trapper who contracted with county, state and federal agencies for more than 17 years, his family said. Willett married in 1948, and he and his wife also operated a feed barn in Ojai.

Willett’s wife, Josephine “Josie” Willett, resides with the couple’s daughter and a grandson on the Willett Ranch in Santa Paula.

In addition to his wife, Willett is survived by a daughter, Joanne Willett of Santa Paula; a brother, George Willett of Merced; and two grandsons.

There will be a memorial service at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Joseph Reardon Funeral Home in Ventura.

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