TSgt Retired Stephen Willis, 76, husband of Susie Jackson Willis, departed this earthly life on Friday, January 17, 2014 at his home, after an extended illness. Born January 26, 1937, in Sumter County, he was the son of the late Mary Lee Willis. He was raised by his maternal grandparents, the late Eugene and Hattie Albert Willis.
He attended Sumter County Schools and graduated from Lincoln High School, Class of 1955. After graduation, he enlisted in the United State Air Force, where he served his country for over 23 years. During his service, he received many awards and accolades to include: Good Conduct Medals, Air Force Commendation Medals, and Air Force Longevity Service Awards. He also became a Mason and a Shriner during his military career. Upon his retirement in September 1978, he returned to South Carolina, where he worked diligently in his home church, the St. James United Methodist Church, serving in various capacities. He was a faithful member of the St. James United Methodist Men until his health began to fail. He was a kind man who took delight in making others smile. He was a dedicated member of the St. Paul Lodge #8, Sumter, where he was a Past Worshipful Master and a recipient of the Tyler Burl Holmes, Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010.
After his military retirement, he managed Pic’n Pay shoe stores in Sumter and Hampton Counties until 1982. His last employment was working for Grant Food Services as the Leesburg Training Center in Eastover, where he had the opportunity to touch many lives in a positive way.
He leaves to cherish his memories: his wife of the home; daughters, Belinda Willis of Columbia, Stephanie Willis of the home; a granddaughter, Ashland Jenkins of Columbia; a special daughter, La’Tasha (Walter) Robertson of Sumter; a sister, Geraldine Butler of Sumter; brothers, Dr. Emanuel (Janice) Willis of Sumter, Captain (US Navy) Moise (Olivia) Willis of Green Cove Springs, FLA; two sisters-in-law, Thomasina Tomlin and Verleena Jackson, both of Sumter; one brother-in-law, Sydney Jackson of Wedgefield; four godchildren, Walter Jenkins, Jr., Brittany Jenkins, Shi-Lynn Mack, LoRae Pressley; extended grandchildren; host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
In addition to his mother and grandparents, he was preceded in death by two fathers-in-law, Samuel Quashie and Louis Gamble; mother-in-law, Thelma Quashie; three brothers-in-law, Allen Butler, Sr., Moses Jackson and Edward Tomlin, and a special son, Robert L. Richardson, Sr.
Funeral services will be held 12:00 noon, Wednesday, January 22, 2014 from the St. James United Methodist Church, 720 Broad Street, Sumter, with the Rev. Mary L. Johnson, pastor, eulogist, assisted by Dr. Sammie D. Simmons, Pastor Willie Dicks and Pastor Cathy Mitchell.
The family is receiving friends and relatives at his home, 913 Clay Street, Sumter.
The Masonic Rites by the St. Paul Lodge #8 of Sumter will be held 5:30 p. m., Tuesday in the John Wesley Williams, Sr. Memorial Chapel, Williams Funeral Home, Inc., 821 North Main Street, Sumter.
The Remains will be placed in the church at 11:00 a. m.
The funeral possession will leave from his home at 11:30 a. m.
Active Floral bearers will be St. James United Methodist Women.
Honorary Floral bearers will be nieces.
Active Pall bearers will be The United States Air Force Military Honors.
Honorary Pall bearers will be St. James United Methodist Men.
Burial will be in the Hillside Memorial Park, 3001 Cain’s Mill Road, Sumter.