Reuben Eugene Willis, 87, Emporia, died Sunday, July 15, 2012 at the Holiday Resort Care Center, Emporia.
The son of Reuben McNeil and Emma Louise Schramm Willis, Reuben Eugene Willis was born in Chanute on Jan. 18, 1925. He and Wadean Elizabeth Hayworth were married at the Lutheran Church in Humboldt on June 22, 1947. She died in Topeka on April 8, 2008.
Surviving family members include his son, Brian Willis and wife, Cydney, Manhattan; daughters, Nanci Rinehart and husband, Lyman, Goodyear, Ariz., Capri Gray and husband, Mark, Helena, Mont., Dr. Kerri Scarbrough and husband, Kirk, Woodinville, Wash., and Kecia Frevert and husband, Tim, Emporia; a brother, Melvin Willis, Chanute; sisters Betty Mitchell, Chanute, Kathleen Terflinger, southeast Kansas, and Gloria Batesel, Basehor; nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Willis served during World War II in the Navy Home Guard in New York as part of the anti-submarine watch. Following his wartime service, he entered and graduated from Neosho County Community College, Chanute, and Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia. After graduation in 1951, he taught speech and drama at several schools including Allen County Community College, Iola. In 1954 he re-enlisted, joining the U.S. Navy, then transferred to the U.S. Air Force in 1956. He served honorably with the Air Force, including a tour in Vietnam, until his retirement in 1972, when he retired with the rank of Master Sergeant. His responsibility area was in public relations and journalism.
Following his retirement from the service he worked as a sign painter, and sold apples from his truck, becoming known as the Apple Man.
Graveside service will be held at the Yates Center Cemetery, north of Yates Center, at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 19. The service will be conducted by Pastor Mark Eichler, Faith Lutheran Church, Emporia. Military honors will be presented by a detail from McConnell Air Force Base, Wichita.
The family will receive friends at the Roberts-Blue-Barnett Funeral Home, Emporia, Wednesday evening from 7 until 8 p.m.
A memorial has been established with Women Heart, and gifts may be sent in care of the funeral home, P.O. Box #175, Emporia, KS 66801
Online condolences may be sent to the family through www.robertsblue.com