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PEABODY- William J. Willis, age 84, a longtime resident of Marblehead, died peacefully on December 28, 2017 following a seven-year battle with cancer. He was the son of the late William Joseph Willis and Dorothy Downey Willis, of Salem, MA and brother to Donald J. Willis of Amherst, NH and Dorothy J. Murkland and her partner Sally Bradshaw of Gloucester..
Bill was born October 18, 1933 in Boston, MA, shortly after that, his family moved to Salem, MA. Upon his graduation from Salem High School, Bill joined the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He received a bereavement discharge and returned home to take care of his family. Bill then started the William Willis construction business, which he ran successfully for over 35 years, serving Boston's north shore communities.
Bill will be deeply missed by Constance Finney Willis, his beloved wife of 60 years. They enjoyed touring New England and discovering new inns, in addition to visiting relatives in Ireland. Together they had three children, William J. Willis Jr. and his wife Martha B. Willis, David J. Willis, and his fiancé, Barbara Pennick of Marblehead and their pre-deceased son, James H. Willis.
Bill an avid athlete was the captain of the basketball and baseball teams at Salem High School. He was later inducted into the Salem High School Sports Hall of fame. He was also a dedicated coach for Marblehead Youth Baseball for many years. However his greatest joy was watching his five grand children compete in a variety of sports. "Grampy Bill" or "Gigi" was always there with some helpful tips to improve their game. He leaves behind Caroline Willis, and Andrew Willis, of Boston, Emily Willis of Marblehead, Rebecca Willis and Alexander Willis of West Newbury. He is also survived by daughter-n-law, Wendy Willis of West Newbury, sister-in-law, Barbara Willis, niece Melyssa Paul, of Concord, N.H. and nephew, Ward Willis, Portland, Maine.
Bill was a humble and generous man who was always concerned about lending a helping hand to his neighbors and community. He spent numerous hours volunteering at the Marblehead Food Pantry, the Marblehead Postal Food Drive and My Brothers Table in Lynn.
Visiting hours will be held on Friday, January 5, 2018, at the Murphy Funeral Home, located at 85 Federal St., Salem, from 4 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Saturday January 6, 2018 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, located at 85 Atlantic Ave, Marblehead, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Marblehead Food Pantry, 80 Atlantic Avenue, Marblehead, MA 01945. For more information or online guestbook, please call 978-744-0497 or visit our website at www.MurphyFuneralHome.com.
Published on January 2, 2018
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