He graduated from Pleasanton High School. Upon graduating from high school in 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in WWII and the Korean War, and was honorably discharged.
He was an officer aboard the USS Grasp, a salvage diving ship. He attended Kansas University to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering.
After the service he returned to Pleasanton. He married Francis Schmitz and worked in the family grocery business and cattle farm until his retirement. Fran preceded him in death in 2016.
Willis was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, Linn County Museum, Rotary Club and other civic organizations.
Willis is survived by two sons, Stew and Philip.
There will be a memorial at 11 a.m. July 15, 2017, at Schneider Funeral Home in Pleasanton.
Friends and family may leave online condolences at www.schneiderfunerals.com.