Eddie Lee Willis, of Thornton, passed away Sunday, February 2, 2020, at age 75.
Funeral services were held at 2:00 p.m. February 6, 2020 at the First United Methodist Church of Groesbeck, Reverend Steve Nance officiated. Burial followed in Faulkenberry Cemetery, with honors provided by the Seale Round Prairie Volunteer Fire Department and other fire departments from surrounding counties.
Pallbearers were Jose Rodriguez, Marcus Johnson, Brian Crenshaw, Steven Barrett, Wesley Hartley, and Benny Funderburk.
Eddie was born March 24, 1944 to Jesse Edward Willis and Eva Jewell (Allen) Willis in Groesbeck, and grew up in Mexia.
Eddie was united in marriage with Virginia Adlyn Strother at the First United Methodist Church of Groesbeck on March 26, 1965. They were introduced on a blind date by a couple who provided the ride in their car, in which Adlyn stepped through the floor as she got in with Eddie. In spite of this rough beginning, they married one year later. Adlyn was only seventeen so she finished high school two months later, and then they moved to Dallas where they both went to work.
He learned his trade as a machinist on the job with oil and gas companies. They moved to Houston where he worked most of his life, during the days when they handed the machinist a blueprint and a piece of metal and said “build it.” He was a “Class A” machinist and worked his final years with Dresser Measurements before his health required him to retire about twenty years ago.
Eddie and Adlyn moved to this area in 2002 to property they already owned at Seale. From the time they moved there, they were both volunteers with the Seale Round Prairie Volunteer Fire Department, and Eddie served as the Fire Chief for fifteen years. Although he retired as Chief in 2018, he remained active in the fire department, always carrying his radio with him.
They started the Willis Ranch family operation in 2003 with a few cows. His philosophy was that in spite of knowing his health was bad, he was not going to sit on the porch. So he stayed active, including putting out hay for the cattle the morning he died.
In addition to the cows and horses, he and Adlyn always had many dogs and cats they rescued from people dropping them off on the side of their road. Eddie had learned the week after they were married that Adlyn picked up stray kittens, and this lasted throughout the years, and included strays their kids brought home.
Eddie was a big family man, who loved his grandchildren and especially the great grandchildren. He was involved in all his kid’s sports activities through their school years, and coached the boy’s baseball teams. He and Adlyn did not miss any function, from baseball, football, cub scouts, karate, cheer leading, skating, or any other event. They taught loyalty and family closeness to their kids.
Eddie and Adlyn were members of the First United Methodist Church of Groesbeck and were involved in the Mission Outreach. He will be greatly missed by many family and friends (and pets.)
Eddie was preceded in death by his parents; two infant sisters; and brothers, Jesse (Doc) Willis and Jefferson Lumus Willis.
He is survived by his wife, Adlyn Willis; daughter, Donna Willis and her fiancé, Jim Swanson of Shepherd; son, Clayton Willis of Thornton and his fiancée Heather Hannah of Lake Limestone; and son and daughter-in-law, Todd and Gwen Willis of Humble. The grandchildren are: Meagan Willis, Dylan and Megan Key, Lauren and Daniel Sandefer, Cody Willis, Taylor Willis, and Dixie Catlin; and five great grandchildren. He is also survived by brother and sister-in-law, James Oran and Martha Willis of Red Oak; sister, Alma Maynard of Euless; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Ray and Margaret Bryant of Vinton, Virginia and brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Judge Ralph and Phyllis Strother of Waco; and many nieces and nephews.