He has gone to be with his Auntie Mame and the Mother who was called away when he was 3 years old.
We are very proud of our Father. He survived the Great Depression, while still living in Nebraska. After moving to California, he enlisted in the army during the Korean Conflict and served as a radioman. His bayonet scar was a visible reminder of that time, as well as the skin disease he brought home. For the family, his refusal to eat another "damn grain of that stuff" that we know as rice was our reminder of his time there. Like many who have seen the tragedy of war, he was reluctant to discuss it with his children.
He was a great Patriot, and proud to be an American and has raised his family to be loyal American citizens. We are proud of him and grateful that he shared his experience and insights with us.
After his return from Korea and Japan, he met our beautiful mother, Shirley, who had come to California with her family from Limington, Maine, and they married in the Little White Chapel, Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 5, 1955. They have been married 56 years.
Bill is survived by four adult children: Shelly (Julie) , Willis II, Jerie (Tom) and Jodie (Ray). He currently has 8 grandchildren, who adore him! Rebecca (Jason) , Ashley (Nick) , Thomas , Samantha , Tabetha, Jared , Max Willis , 'CJ' Cael , and three great grandkids: Jaelee , Jaeden , and Jacob .
Bill was the 11th of 12 children, born to Horace and Sarah in Belgrade, Nebraska. He is survived by his youngest brother, Arlen , whom he often described as his best friend.
He is also survived by Maxine , wife of his beloved brother, Tom. He has too, too many nieces and nephews to count, but he loved them all and cold still tell you the birthdates and significant events in their lives after so many years of the family growing and spreading further distances from one another.
Our Father worked as a glazier for many years, and enjoyed showing us the high-rise buildings, throughout Los Angeles, in which he had set the plate glass windows. So next time you drive through, remember him for the work he felt was the most difficult achievement.
As you all know, he struggled for years with emphysema, followed by strokes, heart attacks, cataracts, diabetes and COPD, so renal failure was a surprise to his family. In the end, we are grateful for the time he had with Mom, and that all of the kids and grandkids were there to say goodbye.
He has chosen to be cremated and have no ceremony. We will honor his wishes. But if you are so inclined, in the tradition of the Irish wake, to raise a cup and a fond memory, I am sure he would enjoy the laughter and tears.