Willis graduated from Bel Air High School in 1952, having been active in 4-H, Music, and driving a school bus. He attended the University of Wisconsin for two years before joining the United States Air Force in 1955.
As a member of the Strategic Air Command, Willis was a B-52 pilot and instructor and flew eight years of Southeast Asia missions during the Vietnam War. He was awarded numerous medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross and membership in the 5000-hour club for his outstanding airmanship. He retired after 23 years as a pilot. A true hero, Willis was respected by all who served with him for his leadership, integrity, honesty and fairness.
Willis had a great sense of humor and was a man of many talents and excelled in everything he did. He had a great love for the outdoors where he enjoyed fishing, hunting, traveling and woodworking.
His greatest joy in life was his wife and family, spending many years supporting and being engaged in their activities. He was an outstanding husband and father.
Preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Bernard; and a son, Daren; Willis is survived by his devoted wife of 35 years, Carolyn; a son, Joe and wife Holly and their children, Alexander and Allison; daughter, Claudette; daughter, Jennifer and husband Kevin; two brothers, Franklin and Gerald; as well as several nieces, nephews and other relatives. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him.
A celebration of Willis’s life will be held locally at Calvary Baptist Church of Kimberling City on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, at 2:00pm with Pastors Dale Kester and Jim Cummings officiating. A celebration of life with military honors will also be held Saturday, April 8, 2017, at 1:00 pm at the Deer Creek United Methodist Church in Forest Hill, Maryland. Inurnment will follow at the Deer Creek United Methodist Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to American Cancer Society. Arrangements and cremation are under the direction of Cremations of the Ozarks.