Billy Jess Willis


Billy Jess Willis, 88, of Pampa, passed away peacefully on November 9, 2023 in Pampa.

Services will be 2:00 PM Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at Central Baptist Church with Rev. Norman Rushing, pastor, and Rev. Rick Parnell, retired minister, officiating. Burial will follow in Fairview Cemetery under the direction of Carmichael-Whatley Funeral Directors and Crematory. 

Bill was born August 1, 1935 to Dewey and Cora Nowlin Willis in Big Springs, Texas. They moved often due to Dewey’s work in the oilfield.  They arrived in Pampa in 1952.  Bill graduated from Pampa High School in 1953 and attended Hardin Simmons University and West Texas A&M.  

Bill worked for Magnolia Oil (later Mobil Oil) for 5 years and then Cabot Corporation – Machinery Division for 23 years.  At that time, he opened a machine shop, CTW Brake Rims, and manufactured brake rims for drilling rigs.  He continued there for 28 years until retirement.  Bill loved metal working and built a lot of equipment for his shop. He always had a workshop at home and could be found there most of the time.

Bill met Leona Attaway at Woolworth, where they both worked during high school.  They were married on July 6, 1956 and had been married for 67 years.  He belonged to Central Baptist Church from the time he came to Pampa and taught Sunday School for over 40 years and served as a Deacon.

Bill served in the Army for 6 years between the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, first at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and then in the National Guard at Pampa. He was at Fort Chaffee when Elvis Presley was inducted, there was quite a commotion over that, but Elvis didn’t remain there.   

He was a Master Mason and received a 50 year award.  Bill enjoyed going to the lake and had numerous camper trailers and motor homes and enjoyed water skiing and fishing. In later years, he took the five grandchildren on a week’s vacation every summer.  Bill also helped keep grandkids every Saturday night, when they were young, to give their parents a break.  He was known as Pawpaw to grands and great-grands.  Bill loved the old western movies and was teased often about his “black and white” movies.  After retirement, he entertained himself by mowing with his zero-turn mower and John Deere tractor.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Mary Taylor; and a nephew, Scott Taylor.

Survivors include his wife, Leona; daughter, Melissa Willis Cantrell and husband Mike; son, Lynn Willis and wife Becky; five grandchildren, Aaron Willis and wife Amanda, Ashley Willis Allen, Bethany Nichols and husband Shane, Rhiannon Newsom and husband Tate, and Cassidy Casados and husband Jordan; 12 great grandchildren; and a niece, Cynthia Taylor.

Memorials may be made to Pampa Senior Citizens, 500 W. Francis, Pampa TX 7965; Snack Pak4Kids, attention Pampa, 701 Park Place, Amarillo TX 79101.

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