NEWPORT NEWS - Gloria Janet Chapman Willis joined the love of her life in heaven on July 16, 2012, where they are dancing together again.|
She was predeceased by her husband of 58 years, Dr. Henry Stuart Kendall Willis Jr. (USAF Medical Corps); her sister, Colleen Scarborough; and her brother, John W. Chapman.
Gloria was born Dec. 17, 1923, in Charlotte, N.C. She was a recent resident of Warwick Forest in Newport News, having moved to this area from Gastonia, N.C., in 2009, to be near her daughter, Sharon Willis Gingras and son-in-law, Dr. Terry J. Gingras of Yorktown. She was a long-time member of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, N.C.
She had been a brilliant student her whole life. The first person in her family to attend college, she was awarded merit scholarships to Women's College at Greensboro (now UNC-G) and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UNC-Chapel Hill, with a major in political science. She had intended to go into foreign service, but life had a way of changing those plans for her. She also completed course requirements for a degree in accounting, as well as a master's degree in political science.
She loved music, opera, gardening, cooking, travel, and making a home for her family wherever the Air Force took them throughout her husband's long career as an Air Force physician. Over the years, they lived in Spain, Alaska, Texas, Michigan, Massachusetts, Florida and South Carolina, before finally ending up back in North Carolina, where they had first met while students at UNC. And no matter where they lived, she did whatever was needed to make the new house a home for the family, including house painting, making drapes and slipcovers, re-tiling floors, landscaping, and of course, unpacking everything and packing it all up again. After her husband's retirement from the Air Force, she managed his medical practice in Mt. Holly, N.C., for many years, and oversaw the remodeling of their home at 'Akinbac Plantation.'
Friends and family will remember Gloria's energetic enthusiasm, her 'can do' attitude, and of course, her rum cakes!
Gloria is survived by her daughter, Sharon Willis Gingras and husband Terry, of Yorktown; son, Dr. Henry Stuart Kendall Willis III and his wife Blair, of Bonners Ferry, Idaho; and son, Steven Jerrold Willis, of Summerland Key, Fla.
Other family survivors include, her sister, Elizabeth Grier, of Gastonia, N.C.; her brother, John W. Chapman, of Montrose, Iowa; eight grandchildren, Erin Gingras Garcia, of Woodbridge, Va., Nathan C. Gingras, of Richmond, Va., Brian M. Gingras, of Brooklyn, N.Y., Dr. Henry Stuart Kendall Willis IV, of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, Samuel E. Willis, of Albuquerque, N.M., Matthew R. Willis, of Dublin, Ireland, Megan Willis Fontana, of Denver, Colo., Elizabeth Willis Tarr, of Powhatan, Va.; nine great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, Gloria would have loved to have memorial contributions given to any NPR or PBS station, as she loved listening to classical music on NPR and watching many great PBS television shows.
Many thanks to the kind staff at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, Va., who helped her in her last days, and also to the staff at the Gardens at Warwick Forest.
A celebration of Gloria's life will be offered at Burton Hall at Warwick Forest, Newport News, Va., at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 21. Burial will follow at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, with her beloved husband.
Arrangements by Amory Funeral Home, Grafton. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at dailypress.com/guestbooks.
Published in Daily Press from July 19 to July 20, 2012