Howard Elwin Willis

September 28, 1928 ~ October 1, 2020 (age 92)


Howard Elwin Willis age 92 of Marshall passed away peacefully at home on October 1, 2020 with his son and daughter by his side. He was born September 28, 1928 in Charlotte, Michigan to Rex and Julia Willis. He attended Olivet Schools and graduated from there in 1946. He was actively involved in FFA all 4 years of high school and was president of FFA his senior year. He worked diligently on the family farm from his childhood years and beyond. He was also a projectionist at the theater in Olivet. He met his wife Phylis Parsons after high school and they married December 23, 1948 in front of the Christmas tree at Howard's uncle John Raymond's home. They had been married 67 years when Phylis passed in 2016. Howard was a well known and successful farmer in the area for decades. His first farm was near Olivet. He then moved to his current farm in 1956. During the years 1950 to 1957 he also worked at Post Cereal and milked his cows at noon and midnight while working second shift at Post Cereals. After moving to his current farm in 1956 he built his dairy herd and added buildings and silos. His dairy herd was 230 cows at one time. His wife Phylis helped with milking for many years. She also had chickens and large gardens. Howard was a member of DHIA for many years (Dairy Herd Improvement Association). He had some top producing cows and earned trophies and awards. He also had up to 200 steers, heifers and calves on the farm or at other properties. Howard was on the Lee Township Board of Review for 20 years. He joined Farm Bureau in 1960. On certain Saturday nights, he and Phylis enjoyed meeting with their Farm Bureau group for meetings, potlucks, and euchre.
He and Phylis enjoyed trips to Mexico and Hawaii. There were also many trips "up north." Howard and Phylis enjoyed going out dancing and he joined the Marshall Moose Lodge in 1070. Many Saturday nights they went out dancing and at one time also did "Modern Square Dancing."
Howard sold his last dairy herd in 1990 and went to raising beef cattle, pigs, and crop farming. He then phased out of animals and went strictly to crop farming and had a large hay business. He was going to quit farming for a long time but he finally retired at the age of 87.
In his retirement, he has enjoyed watching the news, westerns, and RFD (the agriculture channel). He especially loved the Polka and music shows on RFD.
He is survived by his children Mary Mogg and Howard R. Willis; a great-grandson Matthew Shuler; a sister Myla Layton; several nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife Phylis; granddaughter Lauren Shuler; and a sister Martha Willbur.
Visitation will take place from 4-7pm on Thursday October 8, 2020 at the Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services 723 US Hwy 27 N Marshall MI 49068.**Due to Covid19 please use the marked entrances and exits and follow the state guide lines with face coverings** Funeral services celebrating his life will take place at 11am on Friday October 9, 2020 at the Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services 723 US Hwy 27 N Marshall MI 49068. Interment will follow at Bosworth Cemetery. Memorial contributions are requested to Olivet FFA Chapter, 255 1st Street, Olivet MI 49076. Contributions can also be mailed to Kempf Funeral Home PO Box 519 Marshall MI 49068 to be delivered to the charity. Leave a personal message and sign the online guestbook at

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October 8, 2020

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services (Marshall)
723 US Hwy 27 N
Marshall, MI 49068

Funeral Ceremony
October 9, 2020

11:00 AM
Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services (Marshall)
723 US Hwy 27 N
Marshall, MI 49068

October 9, 2020

12:30 PM
Bosworth Cemetery

Walton Township, MI


Olivet FFA Chapter
255 1st Street, Olivet MI 49076

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