Donna Willis - July 13, 2013

Donna Louise Willis, 88, of Grand Island died peacefully at her home at Bickford Cottage in Grand Island, Saturday, July 13, 2013, surrounded by her family and the Bickford Cottage staff that lovingly cared for her.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 16, at the United Methodist Church in Aurora. Pastors Michael Patzloff and Matt Fowler will officiate. Burial will be in the Richland Cemetery at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Visitation will be from 5 - 7 p.m. Monday at Higby-McQuiston Mortuary in Aurora.
Memorials may be made in care of the family. Condolences may be e-mailed to the family through the mortuary website at
Donna was born in Atchison, Kan. on May 29, 1925, to Frank Martin and Clara May (Jones) Voorhees. She was united in marriage to Arcle L. Willis, Jr. on May 28, 1943, at Atchison, Kan. After their marriage her husband went into active duty with the U.S. Army Ranger Battalion and Donna stayed in Atchison where she was employed by Western Union during World War II and later worked for JC Penney’s. After the war, they lived in Pierre, S.D. In 1963 they moved to Marquette, and Donna worked in the long term care unit at Memorial Hospital in Aurora. In 1975, they moved to Columbus, where Donna worked as a hostess for the Holiday Inn restaurant. In 1977, they moved to Nigeria, while Arcle worked on a construction site as the chief master mechanic. They were evacuated from the country due to political unrest and then made Grand Island their home, where Donna was active in the Newcomers group, volunteered at St. Francis Hospital, and The Salvation Army. She was a member of Faith United Methodist Church while living in Grand Island and at the Aurora United Methodist church after moving to Aurora. After the death of her husband, Donna moved to East Park Villa in Aurora for a few years before returning to Grand Island to make Bickford Cottage her home.
Survivors include her daughter, Deborah (Deryl) Nissen of Marquette, two sons, Lonny Willis (Pam) of Kokomo, Ind.; Danny (Jeri) Willis of Aurora; eight grandchildren: Lance Willis (Lisa Millspaugh) of Greenwood, Ind., Laura (Chris) Donnell of Kokomo, Ind., Derek (Amy) Nissen of Aurora, Dustin (Amy) Nissen of Marquette, Micah (Sara) Willis of Aurora; Heidi (Ethan) Vasko of Kearney, and Andrew (Taylor) Willis of Aurora. She also is survived by 13 great-grandchildren and her Bickford Cottage “family.”
She was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, a sister Rosella Quinn of Blackwell, Okla. and an infant sister.

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