Warren W. Willis

Warren W. Willis, 90, of Joplin, died August 3, 2013, at Spring River Christian Village, his home since 2012.

He was born November 22, 1922, in Kirwin, KS, the son of Ulysses S. Grant Willis and Grace Brewer Willis.

On January 6, 1946, he married Helene E. Jensen of Soldier, IA, in Omaha, NE.

Warren attended the Kirwin farm school and Agra High School. He started his college studies at Kansas State University in Manhattan in 1940, but duty called and he enlisted in the Navy v-5 cadet aviation program following Pearl Harbor and partway through his college studies. Following civilian and Naval pilot training programs Warren was commissioned in April 1944 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He continued flight training in divebombers, and was sent to combat operations in the Marshall and Caroline Islands of the Pacific theater. Upon return following the end of the war he married Helene Jensen whom he’d met through her brother and fellow pilot, Harv.

Warren then returned to his studies at Kansas State and graduated in 1947 with a degree in civil engineering. His jobs took him to Atlanta, IA; Iola, KS; Belmond, IA; and finally Marshalltown, IA, which became home base for the family. He became a business partner of Don Thompson in Marshalltown; and they formed Thompson, Willis & Company. He retired in the mid 1970’s, and he and Helene moved first to Heber Springs, AR, and later to Edinburgh and Pharr, TX. In 2001 he and Helene moved closer to family in Joplin, MO.

Warren valued his family above all else but liked the slogan he created for himself of “Farmer-Pilot-Engineer”. He never forgot his Kansas roots.

Survivors include Helene, daughters Janet Willis Weidner of Colorado Springs and Angie Patton of Berryville, AR, and sons-in-law Claus Weidner and Greg Patton. His four sons are Keith Willis of Clovis, CA; Dale Willis of Ogden, UT; Dean Willis of Joplin and daughter-in-law Beth; and Wayne Willis of Loveland, CO, and daughter-in-law JoAnn. He was grandfather to 14 and great-grandfather to 20 children.

He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters, Jane Schwartz and Ann Diamond, and two brothers, Nobel and Morris Willis, along with their spouses.

A private family memorial service is planned in Kirwin, KS at a later date. He will be laid to rest alongside his parents and oldest sister, Jane, in the Kirwin Cemetery.

Memories of Warren may be shared with his family via his daughter, Janet Willis Weidner. Online condolences may be left at www.parkermortuary.com.