Glenn Russell Willis, 50, of Two Rivers, Alaska, died Friday, July 2, 2010, at Madigan Army Medical Center, Ft. Lewis, WA, while recovering from surgery for kidney cancer.
Glenn was born in Vidalia on November 28, 1959, to R.W. and Murline Willis. Like his father, Glenn was an accomplished musician; he played saxophone in the Vidalia High School marching band and played acoustic and electric guitar with friends throughout his life.
Glenn joined the U.S. Air Force upon his graduation from VHS in 1977 and soon decided to make the military his career, retiring after 17 years at the rank of Senior Master Sergeant. His career took him to many duty stations, including Statesboro, Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Montana and Colorado. He most enjoyed his six years in Germany, where he served in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Glenn received numerous honors and medals, including the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal with four oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Longevity Service Award with 3 oak leaf clusters. He attended the USAF Leadership School, NCO Academy and Senior NCO Academy. He also earned an associate’s degree while in service.
Upon his retirement in 1994, Glenn accepted the position of assistant project manager for Lockheed Martin’s ground-based radar bomb scoring contract at Eielson Air Force Base near North Pole, Alaska. Later he took advantage of the VA’s education program and achieved the status of Microsoft Certified Professional, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Microsoft Office Master Instructor. He used these skills in his computer consulting business and contracted with the State of Alaska to teach Microsoft Office to inmates at the Fairbanks Correctional Center.
Glenn enjoyed living in Alaska's rugged environment and delighted in telling stories of life in the “Great Refrigerator” to friends back home in Georgia. He taught himself to fly fish and spent many hours fishing from a canoe as his wife paddled. Glenn also loved his home on 10 acres of spruce woods in the tiny community of Two Rivers, 30 miles from Fairbanks. He delighted in working on his hobby farm, where he raised pheasants, chickens, guinea fowl and geese.
Glenn was active in several veterans’ organizations, including the American Legion, the 40&8 and the Disabled American Veterans. He held many offices at American Legion Post 11 in Fairbanks, including Post Adjutant and Commander.
Glenn was preceded in death by his father, R. W. Willis; maternal grandparents, Matthew and Clara Mae Hester Morris; paternal grandparents, Wade and Ila Willis; an aunt and several uncles.
He is survived by his wife, Kristin Summerlin of Two Rivers, Alaska; daughter, Kristy Willis of Pevely, MO; two sons, Kristopher and Benjamin Willis of Jefferson, Ohio; his mother, Murline Morris Willis of Vidalia; and sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Jones Hart of Vidalia. He is survived by one granddaughter, Madison Slaton of Pevely, MO; two nephews, Ryan and Logan Hart of Vidalia; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 10, at Ronald V. Hall Funeral Home in Vidalia, the Rev. C.M Sheffield officiating. Burial with military honors will follow at Pinecrest Cemetery.
The family will receive visitors at the funeral home Friday evening from 6 to 8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made in Glenn’s name to the Ft. Lewis Fisher House, 9999 Wilson Avenue, Ft. Lewis, WA 98433.