BENKELMAN -- James L. Willis, 60, died Saturday (May 27, 2006), at his home in Benkelman.
He was born Feb. 28, 1946 in Benkelman, to Gilbert and Genevieve (Merklin) Willis, and grew up in the Benkelman area.
In 1964, he joined the United States Air Force. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and received his Honorable Discharge in 1968 with the rank of Sergeant.
On Oct. 16, 1969, he married Connie Rose at St. Francis, where they made their home before moving to Benkelman.
He worked various jobs throughout his life, including masonry work for his uncle, Melvin Pursley; as a welder for Miller Manufacturing in Stratton; the Nebraska Department of Roads; and as a farm hand for the Les Ambrosek family in northern Dundy County. He was forced into early retirement due to poor health.
He was preceded in death by his father, Gilbert Willis; and one infant daughter, Debra Dian.
Survivors include his wife, Connie Willis of Benkelman; children, Marcia Willis of Benkelman, Amber Ummel and husband, Jerry of Gothenburg; Jami Gurule and husband, Jeremy of Pagosa Springs, Colo.; son, Eric Willis and wife, Chelsea; daughter, Lindsey Willis of Benkelman; mother, Genevieve Willis and brother, Bob Willis and wife, Bonnie all of Benkelman; sister, Kathy Smith and husband, Jim of Wray, Colo.; and four grandchildren
.Funeral services will be 1 p.m. (MDT), Friday at Forch Funeral Chapel in Benkelman. Interment with military honors will follow services at the Benkelman Cemetery.
There will be no visitation or viewing. The casket will remain closed. Memorials may be given in his name.
Arrangements are under the direction of Forch Funeral Chapel of Benkelman.