Willis H. Collyer, age 91 of Mattapoisett, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at Our Ladys Haven in Fairhaven, MA after a long illness. He was the husband of the late Barbara R. Bobi (Walker) Collyer. Born and raised in Marblehead, MA, Willis was the son of the late Ernest L. and Corinne (Lindsey) Collyer. He had resided in Mattapoisett since 1956. He was a member of the Mattapoisett Congregational Church. He graduated from Marblehead High School and later went on to receive an associate degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University. Growing up in Marblehead, loving anything marine and water related, he began work at Graves Yacht Yard, and crewed on the classic one-designs of the day, including J, Q, and S boats, as well as 110s and 210s. He later worked at the Marblehead Transportation Co., and served as waterfront Steward of both the Eastern Yacht Club and Boston Yacht Club. Will was a proud Coast Guard veteran of World War II, enlisting in 1939. He first served as a gunner in North Atlantic convoy duty aboard the 125 cutter TRAVIS. Later in the war he served in the Pacific Theater aboard the cutter TANEY. He was Chief Gunners Mate when he participated in the invasions of Okinawa and Tokyo. He remained very active in TANEY reunion activities, visiting the ship enshrined in Baltimore on many recent Pearl Harbor Days. He was a member of the Florence Eastman American Legion and member and immediate past president of the Machacam Club. Will began his career as a National Resource Officer and patrol boat captain in 1955, retiring as supervisor of Massachusetts marine environmental law enforcement in 1986. On his early off duty days, he was employed by Brownell Boat Yard, Edwin L. Perkins Co. and Joseph Luiz Contractors at various times, instilling a much respected strong work ethic in his three sons. Willis was very active, independent and sharp as a tack throughout his later years, kept busy maintaining his own home, furniture making and of course following the activities of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Regular drive-throughs of the Mattapoisett Boatyard, the town wharf and visits with his friends for coffee filled his days. He is survived by his sons Michael L. Collyer and his wife Jacqueline, and Craig W. Collyer and his wife Joanne, both of Mattapoisett, and his daughter in law Jennifer M. Collyer of Fairhaven; his grandchildren Dana P. Collyer and his wife Tena, of Fairhaven, Lindsey W. Thompson and her husband Scott of New Bedford, Jordan C. Collyer and his wife Jessica of Mattapoisett, Hillary J. Collyer of Somerset, Evan J. Collyer of Fairhaven; step-grandchildren Daniel F. Canastra of Arlington and Carolyn A. Canastra of Mattapoisett; and his beloved great-grandchildren William, Jack and Lillian. Willis was the father of his much beloved youngest son, the late Karl M. Collyer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Karl M. Collyer Memorial Fund, PO Box 947, Mattapoisett, MA 02739, which affords the opportunity for all youths, regardless of ability to pay, to learn the fine art of sailing (mattsail.org). The family extends its sincere appreciation to the staff at Our Ladys Haven for the skilled, loving and compassionate care of Willis in his declining months. His Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, April 20th at 11 AM in the Mattapoisett Congregational Church.
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Published in The Marblehead Reporter from Mar. 30 to Apr. 6, 2013