WICHITA — Richard E. Willis, 97, entered his eternal home on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Wichita.
Richard was born June 22, 1923, at home in Parsons the son of Louis “Elmo” and Ida “May” Willis and raised on a farm in southern Neosho County. He was a 1942 graduate of Parsons High School.
On Sept. 6, 1942, he married his high school sweetheart, Ellen Pargen. They were married for 72 years before her passing in 2014. After high school, they attended Parsons Junior College and Richard entered the U.S. Army in 1944, achieving the rank of master sergeant. Richard was stationed in Europe and was one of the last ones to cross the bridge over the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany.
Under the GI Bill, Richard attended Kansas State University, graduating in 1949 with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1954, he began a career at Ash Grove Cement Co., rising through the ranks and retiring as an executive vice president. Richard and Ellen lived in Overland Park for 33 years. During retirement they traveled extensively and attended many family events, living the last 20 years in Wichita.
He is survived by his brother, Rollin and his wife, Laquetta Willis; children, Jeffrey and his wife, Barbara Willis, Gregory and wife, Pam Willis; grandchildren, Andrew and his wife, Anne Willis, Elizabeth and her husband, Russ Radi, David and his wife, Sabrina Willis, Adam and his wife, Kiley Willis, Emily and her husband, Nick Alderman, Nathan and his wife, Cammie Willis, Katy and her husband, Caleb Hekele; and great-grandchildren, Jackson, Grace, Eleanor, and Oliver Radi, Scarlett, Gunnar and Hazel Willis, Wylan Willis, Austin Willis, Mercy, Mavis and Millie Willis, Julia and Abby Alderman.
Richard was preceded in death by his brother, Robert, and his wife, Verna, and sister, Johan Powers.
The service will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, 1550 N. Chapel Hill St., Wichita. Richard and his wife, Ellen, will be laid to rest in a graveside service 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at Mount Hope Cemetery, Galesburg.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are established with Chapel Hill United Methodist Church and Labette Community College through the Richard and Ellen Willis Scholarship Fund. The service will be livestreamed at Chapel Hill UMC at https://venue.streamspot.com/fc12ed67.