James  Willis

Obituary of James Peter Willis

James (Jim) Willis, 82, passed away on March 26, 2024 at Baptist Health Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Jim was born Jan 5, 1942 to James Pershing Willis and Rebecca (Lozano) Willis in Los Angeles, California. He grew up in a loving home with 4 siblings: Ron, Bill, Rose and George. They always had horses and other animals growing up. He and his brothers Ron and Bill enjoyed roping. They team roped and also roped individually. He enjoyed his mother's yeast rolls, spaghetti, tacos, enchiladas and meatball soup. He and his family spent time together going camping in the desert (Kelso) and catching burros. Another family tradition was tamale fest where the whole family would get together and make tamales. They would make an assembly line to put them together. It was an all-day production. Jim loved to ski both in water and snow. Jim was a sports fanatic, he also had a love of reading and loved the entire Yellowstone series. Jim worked in the air conditioning and heating installation business most of his life.

He married Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Barker on Oct 15, 1960 in El Monte, California. They had 3 children: Debra, Jim and Jay. Jim continued to enjoy anything to do with horses. Many weekends were spent going to horse shows, roping events, Chino rides and Debbie’s Gym canter shows. If they were not at horse events they were camping at Kelso or the Colorado River. Jim and Betty also enjoyed going to concerts.

He married Joan Swann Nov 15, 1987 in Corona, California. They have 2 children, Jolee and Angus. He was a loving husband and father, and a wonderful caregiver. After Jim’s retirement they moved to Kentucky to an equestrian housing area. He enjoyed mowing and taking care of the housing area barns and trails. The family enjoyed vacationing at different places, the favorite was Hilton head. His deep love was also shown as he was at Joan’s side through her illness until she passed.

Soon he thought he needed more grass to mow so he bought a 43-acre farm, where he lived happily with his children Jolee and Angus, building horse stalls and fenced in areas for their horses and cattle.

Jim was predeceased by his parents, wife Joan, brothers Ron Willis and Bill Willis, and granddaughter Rebecca Ashton.

Survivors include children Jolee Willis and Angus Willis of the home, Debra (Steve) Rippie of South Hutchinson, KS; Jim (Lisa) Willis of Tulsa, OK; and Jay (Erika) Willis of Mexicali, Mexico. Siblings Rose DeCesare of Star, ID; George (Brenda) Willis of Hemet, CA, sister-in-law Carole Willis of Star, ID, 13 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and 1 great, great grandchild.

Jim chose cremation. The family will be holding a Celebration of Life at the home on April 27, 2024 at 3:00 PM. Memorials to the Red Cross.

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