WILLIS, ART (Frederick Arthur);
Art Willis passed away peacefully on July 13, 2006 in Kelowna, B.C. at the youthful age of 90. Art was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, aviator, craftsman, humanitarian, and eater of meat and potatoes.
Art was born on February 22, 1916 in Edmonton, Alberta, the second son of Jessie Hall and Alfred Willis. A brother to Len and Ethel, Art was raised in Vermillion, Alberta where his father worked at the agricultural college. The family moved to New Westminster, B.C. in 1927. Art and his older brother and buddy Len attended the Central School and Trapp Tech where he learned some of the trades he employed skilfully throughout his life.
In 1940 both Len and Art joined the RCAF. Art was loaned to CP Air aircraft
maintenance division in Edmonton prior to being accepted into flight school in 1942. Following training he was assigned to Transport Command in Europe. In 1945, he took the hand of Marion Ardern, after she tried unsuccessfully -3 times- to return the ring to her endearingly stubborn suitor. At the conclusion of the war Art returned to his young wife and they raised their family in New Westminster and Coquitlam. Art worked in automobile body repair for a number of years and was Maintenance Foreman at Mohawk Handle Company for 22 years. He reluctantly retired at the age of 69.
Following his retirement Art began volunteering with Marion at the Port Moody Food Bank where he was particularly loved by the children. His tireless dedication and thoughtfulness over 13 years earned him special recognition and a re-retiring award for his contribution to the society.
Art had a fondness for sports, especially curling, and he loved to spend his spare time doing woodwork and carpentry. He employed his ingenuity in leading the hand construction of the family cabin at North Barriere Lake. For many years thereafter Art was a fixture at the cabin, usually wearing his traditional green work clothes and a crooked hat with an “armstrong” power-saw at the ready. In his later years, while Marion learned the internet, Art developed an affection for Freecell which extended his already sharp card playing skills. Art and Marion moved from Coquitlam to Kelowna in 2000 to be closer their family. Summers were enjoyed at Gyro Beach, sitting in the shade of the trees while working on his endless supply of word puzzle books.
Art was a tremendously devoted family man, deeply loved by his wife and three children. He leaves Marion 61 years after their wedding vows. Art is preceded by his daughter Susan, brother Len and sister Ethel. Grandpa and Dad continues within his wife Marion, son Rod (Carol) of Vernon, daughter Trudi Perkes (Brian) of Winfield, granddaughters Sara Thompson (Robb) of Calgary, Erin Perkes of Port Coquitlam, Nicole Perkes of Reading, England and grandson Graham (Laurie Denyer). He is also survived by cousins Pat Ackerman, Irene Brooks, Ray Willis and Mildred Saunders and by his dear sisters-in-law, Evelyn and Daisy. Art also leaves many nieces and nephews who remember him for his laughter, good humour, great company and firm handshake.
The family wishes to extend their sincere thanks to Art’s caregivers over the past three weeks.
A memorial service will be held at First United Church, Kelowna, B.C., on Thursday, July 20, 1 pm. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made on Art’s behalf to your charity of choice or to the Mission and Service Fund of the United Church of Canada.