Thomas Jefferson Willis, 91, passed away on May 15, 2014. At the time of his death he was a resident of Wake Forest and resided at the Lodge of Wake Forest. He was the son of Thomas Edison Willis and Grace Crenshaw Willis.
Thomas was known affectionately as T.J. to his family and friends. He was born and raised in St. Pauls, North Carolina, where he lived until moving to Wake Forest in October of 2011 with Marie, his wife of sixty-six years.
Thomas served his country during the Second World War as a Motor Machinist’s Mate in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in December 1945 and joined his father in the family building business. He attended Presbyterian Junior College and later became a licensed contractor. Thomas built homes, businesses, and the St. Pauls Presbyterian Church under the company name Willis Construction Company. During his working career he also served as a building inspector for the FHA and a Scarborough’s Building Supply.
In May of 1948 he married Edith Marie Herndon, also of St. Pauls. They had one daughter, Pamela Kaye Willis Hardee. He was a devoted father and husband.
Thomas was an active member of the St. Pauls Presbyterian Church where he served as a deacon and elder. On January 11, 2008 he was given the honor of Elder Emeritus. He was also an active member in the St. Pauls Masonic Lodge, where he served as lodge master and was recognized for his fifty years of service. Thomas enjoyed being a Shriner and worked tirelessly for the Shriner’s Crippled Children’s Hospitals through the St. Pauls Shrine Club.
Preceded in death by his brother Jerry Brown Willis, Thomas is survived by his wife, Marie; daughter, Pamela Willis Hardee; son-in-law, Gary Hardee; sister-in-law, Patricia Willis; grandsons, Thomas Hardee and his wife Amy Hardee, Tanner Hardee and his wife, Ashlee Hardee; one great-grandson, Anderson West Hardee. He also had a number of nieces and nephews that he held dear to his heart.
Husband, Daddy, Grandpa, Uncle, and friend was known for his quiet manner and sweet smile. He will be missed by many.
Thomas’ life will be celebrated on Monday, May 19, 2014 at the St. Pauls Presbyterian Church in St. Pauls, at 11:00 am. A visitation will be held at 10:00 am prior to the service.
He will be laid to rest in Gardens of Faith Cemetery with the rendering of Masonic and Military Honors.
Memorials can be made to the St. Pauls Presbyterian Church, 228 N. Old Stage Road, St. Pauls, NC 28384.
Arrangements by McNeill Mackie Funeral Home, St. Pauls, NC.