Bom-Wrapper

James Willis

James Willis

Friday, April 15th, 1927 - Thursday, April 23rd, 2020
Recommend this to your friends.
Share via:

Sign in to the Family Interactive Login

The Family Interactive feature enhances An Amazing Life. Authorized family members can securely access their loved one's memorial website settings at any time.

Share Book of Memories with a Friend

Please enter the name and email details so that we can send your friend a link to the online tribute. No names or addresses will be collected by using this service.

Email Sent

Your email has been sent.

To share your memory on the wall of James Willis, sign in using one of the following options:

Sign in with Facebook

OR

Sign in with your email address

Your condolence has been posted successfully

Provide comfort for the family by sending flowers or planting a tree in memory of James Willis

No Thanks

Contact Funeral Home

Please enter your question or comment below:

Email Sent

Your email has been sent.

James's Tribute Fund

  •  Full Name
  •  Initials
  •  Anonymous
By continuing, you agree with the terms and privacy policy.

James's Tribute Fund

There may be a delay while processing. Please do not click the back button or refresh while a payment is processing.
Send Flowers
Guaranteed hand delivery by a local florist

Obituary

James Ethan Willis, age 93 years, of Jefferson City, Mo., passed away unexpectedly at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

He was born on April 15, 1927 in a cabin built by his father in Macks Creek, Mo. He was the son of James R. and Mary (Baker) Willis. He was the youngest of six children and had five older sisters. James often talked about his older sisters doting on him. Their love for him taught him the value of caring for others. He was raised on his family farm, working along side his father. James always treasured those years growing up in Macks Creek.

He was married to the love of his life, Marjorie (Grimes) Willis, on October 28, 1956 at Greenfield, Mo. She preceded him in death on April 7, 2013.

A lifelong resident of the Central Missouri area, James graduated from Macks Creek High School in 1945. He then began his college career at Southwest Baptist College, where in 1952 he received an associate degree in education.

After graduation James enlisted in the United States Army, where he served in the 7th infantry, north of the 38th parallel, in North Korea during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged in 1954 as Sergeant First Class. While stationed in Korea, he started a makeshift school in a tent teaching his fellow soldiers to read and write.

After returning from Korea, he served in the Army Reserves for seven years. A proud veteran, he had the opportunity to participate in the Honor Flight in 2014, an experience he considers one of his greatest memories.

When he returned from the Korean War, James went back to school and attended Missouri State University (then Southern Missouri State University) in Springfield, Mo, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. He later received his Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Missouri – Columbia in 1960. James went on to receive his PhD in Philosophy in 1968 from MU.

James started his professional career as a teacher in several one-room schools in Camden County. After returning from Korea and furthering his education, He began his career as a social worker. He was the director of Child Welfare in Laclede and Camden County in the late 1950’s. He and Marjorie with his children, Jeffrey and MaryAnn, moved to Jefferson City in the 1960’s to begin working with the Missouri Division of Family Services. Being a social worker was his passion for over 39 years, until he retired in 1989.

James accepted Jesus as his Lord in 1945 in an Assembly of God tent revival in Branch, Mo. He was shortly thereafter baptized in the Niangua River. James loved the Lord, and he read the Bible and spent time in Prayer every day of his life.

He was a member of the Macks Creek Masonic Lodge. He recently earned honors for being a member for 75 years. James was also a member of the Eastern Star, Victoria Chapter No. 14, for over 65 years, which was an activity he enjoyed with Marjorie.

James loved being outdoors and always enjoyed hunting, even raising his own hunting dogs. An avid reader, James loved to talk about how he was taught to read by his sister, Jewell, at a young age. He could always be found reading a book, sometimes up to 5 books a week. He enjoyed researching his family history and genealogy, and he wrote extensively about his family’s lineage. James was always active and healthy, and he could be seen riding his bike on the Katy Trail or walking at the Runge Nature Center (an activity he enjoyed until a year ago). He was a lifelong learner and loved watching current events and politics.

James was a true gentleman in every way and was a kind-hearted and honorable man. He was a man of his word. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather who loved his family with all his heart. He will be dearly missed. There will never be another like him.

Survivors include: his beloved daughter Mary Ann Willis of Jefferson City, Mo.; one daughter-in-law, Bird Willis of Carbondale, Il.; one brother-in-law, James Carl Grimes (Lil) of Branson Mo.; a Sister in Law, Sharlene Bennett Grimes of Lebanon Mo ; five grandchildren, Amber, James Matthew, Kelsey, Benjamin, and Jacob; one great-grandchild, Cheyanne; and he was a beloved uncle of many nieces and nephews.

James was preceded in death by his parents; his loving wife of 56 years, Marjorie Willis; one son, Jeffrey Wayne Willis who passed away in 2014; five sisters, Mella May Dibben, Stella Ann Sheek, Jewell Marie Clopp, Freda Berniece Tucker and one infant sister Ruby Dell Willis.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a private funeral service will be conducted in the Freeman Chapel with the Reverend Dr. Monte Shinkle officiating. Graveside services and interment will be held at Riverview Cemetery with military honors, where he will be laid to rest next to his dear wife Marjorie.

A webcast of the funeral service will begin at 12:45 p.m. Friday, May 1, 2020 for family and friends to view by going to the “photos and videos” tab on this page and scrolling down to the webcasting link. Friends may mail sympathy cards to the funeral home to be given to his family.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Central Missouri Honor Flight, 1400 Forum Blvd. Ste. 7-A, Box 334, Columbia, Mo. 65203.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Freeman Mortuary, 915 Madison Street, Jefferson City, Mo. 65101.
Read Less

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Willis, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.

Sign Up for Notifications

Receive notifications about information and event scheduling for James

Memorial Program

We have provided a digital copy (PDF) of the Memorial Program that we supply at the time of the service. To Download this file please click the filename below. James Willis - Memorial Program

Service Details

  • Service

    Friday, May 1st, 2020 |
    When
    Friday, May 1st, 2020
    Location
    Freeman Chapel
    Address
    915 Madison Street
    JEFFERSON CITY, MO 65101
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Notes
    A webcast of the funeral service will begin at 12:45 p.m. Friday, May 1, 2020 for family and friends to view by going to the “photos and videos” tab on this page and scrolling down to the webcasting link. Friends may mail sympathy cards to the funeral home to be given to his family.

Condolences

We encourage you to share your most beloved memories of James here, so that the family and other loved ones can always see it. You can upload cherished photographs, or share your favorite stories, and can even comment on those shared by others.

No video recorded.

Private Condolence
Flowers
Provide comfort for the family of James Willis by sending flowers.
Guaranteed hand delivery by a local florist
CB

Chris & Ellen Burris

Posted at 11:06pm
My sincere condolences for the loss of your Father. Will keep you and Matthew in our prayers.
Tree Image
A memorial tree was planted in the memory of James Willis — Plant a Tree Now
Loading...

Photos & Videos

Photo Album

Upload up to 10 images at a time, max 8MB each

Tribute Video

Share by: