Donald Vincent Willis was born to Laurel and Hazel (Rarick) Willis in Springfield, Michigan. He was raised on a farm south of Bellevue, a descendant of the Willis pioneer family that settled in Bellevue Township in 1836. Don graduated from Bellevue High School in 1954, where he played football, track and was all conference in basketball and baseball. He continued playing basketball and baseball after graduation, before officiating and umpiring for 10 years.
Don married Carol Spaulding in 1955 and they enjoyed 65+ years together. Together, they raised three children, Debra (Jeff) Norman, Daniel (Toni) Willis and Roger (Marina) Willis.
Don was employed at Kellogg’s for 37 years, starting in the warehouse and finishing his career as Plant Construction manager. He was a life member of the Kellogg 25 Year Club and Kellogg Sportsman’s Club.
Don was a kind soul with a BIG heart, always quick to lend a hand or a listening ear. He loved to be involved with people and working on projects - especially youth activities. He enjoyed watching young people grow into “good and considerate adults”. He was known as COACH of the Bellevue Pony’s baseball team for 20 years, served as a Cub Master, was a Sunday School teacher and camp counselor at the United Methodist Church Camp Lake Louise, served on their Youth Task Force for the West Michigan Conference and led the Bellevue Community Schools Board of Education in fostering the development of the new high school in 1980. Along with Carol, he assisted in building 2 Habitat Houses in Albion. As a result of his service, he received an Education Award from Olivet College and was named Bellevue Citizen of the Year.
Don was a member of the Bellevue United Methodist Church and UMC Men’s Club, holding several positions over the years, including lay speaker and chairing many committees. He was a member and officer of the Bellevue Historical Society.
Don enjoyed hunting, fishing, sports and developed a love of golf after retirement. He traveled with Carol to Canada, Alaska, Hawaii and most of the USA. They enjoyed traveling with friends to the Holy Lands, Egypt, Greece, Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as yearly bus excursions.
Most of all, Don’s love for family came above any personal activities. Watching his children and grandchildren play sports was always a priority. In addition to his children, he is survived by grandchildren Nick Shane, Aaron Graszler, Kristin Willis, Amy Haudek, Jonathan Willis, Kyle Norman, Mitchell Norman and 10 great-grandsons.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Carol, siblings Robert, Stephen, Boni and numerous dear relatives and friends.
A memorial service for Don will be held Thursday, April 14 at 11:00am at Bellevue United Methodist Church. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service in the church social hall. Interment will follow the service at Bellevue Riverside Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to the Bellevue United Methodist Church Men’s Club or the Bellevue Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of Donald Willis.
Arrangements entrusted to Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 205 N Elizabeth St., Bellevue, MI 49021. Please visit http:/www.kempffuneralhome.com to view online obituary, sign the guest book or to leave the family condolences.