Ellison Richards Willis, Sr.

Published 9:02 am Wednesday, April 19, 2023

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Ellison Richards Willis, Sr. died on April 13, 2023, at the age of 90. He was born to Elisha James Willis II and Sarah Elizabeth Richards Willis on March 16, 1933, in Bainbridge, Ga. He was the brother of the late Margaret Dent Willis and the late Elisha James Willis III.

Ellison Richards Willis, Sr. graduated from Bainbridge High School in 1951. After graduating, he attended the University of Georgia on an athletic scholarship where he played on the University of Georgia baseball team. He went on to attend Florida State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education. He also earned a Master’s degree in School Administration from Florida State University. There he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega (ATU) Fraternity.

In 1984, Mr. Willis retired from Decatur County Board of Education while serving as a school administrator for Decatur County Schools. He dedicated himself as a school principal and teacher for many years. He was loved and respected by many of his students and teachers. He also devoted himself to helping and mentoring them and others in many ways. He was a generous man. Mr. Willis was also named “Star Teacher” of Decatur County Schools.

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In 2021, Mr. Willis was celebrated as the only surviving grandson of Elisha James Willis, who in 1904 was Mayor of Bainbridge for which the Willis Park square located in Downtown Bainbridge is named.

Mr. Willis was an avid reader and enjoyed writing. He owned an extensive book collection of his favorite author, Ernest Hemingway. As recreation, he enjoyed reading, playing golf, fishing, hunting, but playing golf with his many friends was his best.

He was a devoted and loving husband to his wife, Virginia, and a loving father to his children, Elizabeth Dent Willis Ward (Jeff) of Tallahassee, Ellison Richards Willis, Jr. (Elise) of Mexico Beach, and Mark Ashley Willis (Dana) of Cairo. He was a loving grandfather to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His grandchildren include Justin Elaine Willis, Katherine Elizabeth Gudz (Adam), Hannah Ashley Willis Elliott (Brett), Olivia Dent Ward Barber (Ben), Mose Alexander Willis, Peyton Ellison Willis, Rawson Reid Willis, Palmer Forgay, Tabor Wold (Zane), Edward Tipton (Abril), and Richard Bates (Jaclyn). His great-grandchildren: Madisyn Gudz, Maddox Avery Elliott, Briggs & Baylor Elliott, Mila Katherine Gudz, Amelia Tipton, and Emma Tipton.

He was of Baptist faith and a member of First Baptist Church.

The family would like to thank Ellison’s caregivers, Dr. J. Sydney Cochran, the staff at Bainbridge Healthcare, his kind nurses at Bainbridge Healthcare, and Lauren Harrell and Joanna Hatfield of Gentiva Hospice.

The graveside funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, April 17, 2023, at Oak City Cemetery with Rev. Chris Humphries officiating and his grandchildren serving as active pallbearers.

The family will receive friends from 4:00 until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 16, 2023, at Bryant Funeral Home Chapel. Online visitors may sign the guest register at www.bryantfuneralga.com.

Bryant Funeral Home, located at 105 N. Florida Street, is assisting the family with arrangements. (229-246-3321)