In Memory of my Father - Joseph Albert Willis
26th November 1916 - 28th February 2007
Joe Willis was born in Loughgall, County Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1916. In the early 1930's he moved to England living in Sunning Hill, Ascot and working as a gardener. Gardening was a passion which was to continue throughout his life.
When the war started, he joined the Royal Air Force and saw action in the Western Desert and Italy. Later in the war he was placed with Bomber Command in Lincolnshire. He left the RAF after the war and returned to Northern Ireland where he met and later married Frances Hanbidge on 17th August 1949.
After working as a bus driver in Holywood, he set up his own business making and fitting fireplaces and later moved to Agnes Street just off the Shankill Road in Belfast where I (his son - and also Joe Willis) was born in 1960. After moving again to the Cavehill Road in 1972 he continued in the fireplace business until he retired whereupon they moved to Carrickfergus in County Antrim.
After retirement he became a very active member of the Royal Air Force Association and the British Legion in Carrickfergus (becoming Vice President). He was, as usual, quick to make friends and took up bowls and joined in the local church activities with vigour. He also continued to assist others as he had done throughout his life modestly with a smile and a thoughtfulness that was as natural to him as breathing. As a result of his charitable work he was nominated for an OBE but unfortunately died whilst the selection process was still in progress. He also continued to follow his life long passion for nature, creating a small year-round garden from scratch and ensuring that his beloved garden birds had a haven to feed. The funeral service was held in Saint Colman's Parish Church in Carrickfergus on Saturday 3rd March 2007 and he is buried in Clandeboye cemetery, near Bangor, in County Down.
An obituary in the Carrickfergus Times can be read here and there is a note in the minutes of the Carrickfergus Borough Council meeting on the 2nd April 2007 - here
On 30th September 2008, Frances Easter Willis (my fathers widow and my Mother) died suddenly in her sleep at her home in Carrickfergus. On 3rd October 2008 after a service at Saint Colman's in Carrickfergus she was buried in the same plot as my Father in Clandeboye cemetery, near Bangor, in County Down.
Some brief details on my Mother Here
This website contains details of his experiences during the 1939 - 1945 war, the many photographs he took there and some of his RAF and other documents from the time. Please follow the links below to the appropriate areas of the site.
Website created by Joe Willis, March 2007
Updated 30th January 2010
All images and contents © Joe Willis and must not be reproduced without written permission
Permission will normally involve a simple credit to my Father for use of his photographs or text
Please contact me for more information