Jerry Brown Willis, of St. Pauls, departed this life on Aug. 20, 2013, after an extended illness. He was 84.
A lifelong member of the St. Pauls community, Jerry was born Sept. 18, 1928, to the late Thomas Eston Willis and the late Grace Virginia Crenshaw Willis. After graduating from St. Pauls High School in 1947, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a gunner’s mate on the U.S.S. Turner from 1948 to 1952 and during the Korean Conflict. After being honorably discharged, Jerry returned to St. Pauls and joined his father and brother T.J. in the family carpentry business, and later operated his own construction firm under the name Jerry Willis Builder. Together, the family built several homes and businesses that are in use today, and helped to construct St. Pauls churches. He also attended Presbyterian Junior College in Maxton. In 1954, he married Patricia Faye Oakley. They had one child, Virginia Faye Willis, who was a daddy’s girl from the start. Jerry was a lifelong member of St. Pauls Presbyterian Church, where he served as a deacon and elder and on various committees. He was initiated into the St. Pauls Masonic Lodge No. 474 on May 16, 1957, and raised to the sublime degree of master mason on June 18, 1957. He served as lodge master in 1963 and again in 1991, and was recognized for 50 years of service on Nov. 30, 2007. Jerry enjoyed woodworking and fishing and was an avid sports fan, most especially of the New York Yankees. What he enjoyed most was his family. He delighted in his young great-granddaughter, whom he always greeted with a high-five. He leaves to cherish his memory his wife Patricia; daughter Virginia Faye Madden and son-in-law Kenneth Madden; brother, Thomas Jefferson “T.J.” Willis and sister-in-law Marie Herndon Willis; granddaughter Leanne Amelia Madden; grandson Willis Alexander Madden and granddaughter-in-law Abbigail Elizabeth Overfelt; and great-granddaughter Zoey Reese Madden. A celebration of his life will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at St. Pauls Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Sue Hudson officiating. The visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at McNeill Mackie Funeral Home in St. Pauls. Memorials can be made to St. Pauls Presbyterian Church, at 228 N. Old Stage Road, St. Pauls, 28384, or to Southeastern Hospice at 2002 N. Cedar St., Lumberton, 28358.