Willis Arnold Middleton
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Willis Arnold Middleton, 91, of Clemson, SC and widower of Mary Agnes (Billie) Watson Middleton, died peacefully in his home on Thursday morning, December 27, 2012. He lived his life reflecting the love and compassion of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and now abides in His holy presence. His life exemplified what it meant to be a faithful, loving husband and father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He believed that every day, he should reach out to others and make the world a better place, sharing love and laughter with those he met along his way. Whether he shared a kind word, a hug, a warm smile or a joke, his compassion and positive presence brought joy to his family, church and community.
Willis Middleton was born on March 29, 1921 in Garland, Alabama, the son of Wardlaw Euel and Evelyn Joyner Middleton. He graduated from Evergreen High School in Evergreen, Alabama in 1939. He attended Auburn University in 1941 and 1942 where he studied Aeronautical Administration. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy beginning in the summer of 1942 when he began CPT Flight Training and received his private pilot license. He then entered the U.S. Navy V-5 Flight Program and after receiving his wings on July 7, 1943, he became a naval flight instructor in Corpus Christi and Beeville, Texas. In June 1944, he transferred to the Naval Air Station in Atlanta, Georgia as an Instrument Flight Instructor where he remained until discharged on March 6, 1946. He married his bride of 61 years, Mary Agnes (Billie) Watson on November 4, 1944 while in the Navy. He then attended Georgia Tech University in Atlanta where he received his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, Class of 1949.
He spent his entire engineering career with Shell Oil Company. After the 14 month Engineer Training Program, Willis began working as a mechanical engineer in the Production Department, Houston TX Division. He later worked in Kilgore, Texas and Corpus Christi, Texas. His last 16 years with Shell Oil Company was as a Control Systems Engineer with the Shell Chemical Division in Deer Park, Texas from 1969 to 1985 when he retired with 36 years of service.
In 1987, Willis and Billie moved to Decatur, Georgia where they lived until April 2001 when they made their home in Clemson Downs, Clemson, SC. On March 26, 2005, Willis lost Billie, his loving wife of 61 years. He was a faithful and loving husband, caring for his wife for 29 years during a long, extended illness.
Willis was a member of First Baptist Church, Clemson where he was a member of the Spencer-McLeod Sunday School Class. During his years in Decatur, Georgia, he was a member of First Baptist Church, Decatur, GA and for over 30 years, he was a member of South Main Baptist Church while living in Houston, Texas.
Willis is survived by his two daughters and their husbands, Virginia Lee "Ginger" Setliff and David of Eldersburg, MD, and Lyndall Louise "Lynda" Willis and Tim of Clemson, SC; four grandchildren, Andrea Dawn Setliff of Belvidere, NJ, Erin Lee Kummerer of Ocoee, FL, John Daniel Willis of Clemson, SC and David Timothy Willis of Greenville, SC; two great-grandsons, Caleb and Isaiah, who both brought him great joy during the last year and a half of his life; and one sister, Jean Albert and her husband Frank of Birmingham, Alabama.
A memorial service will be held at 3:00pm, Friday, January 4, 2013 at the Clemson Downs Retirement Center Dining Hall, Clemson, SC. The family will receive friends in the Dining Hall after the service. A graveside service will be held on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at the Decatur City Cemetery, Decatur, Georgia.
Memorials may be made to The Building Fund of First Baptist Church, Clemson, SC, Interim HealthCare Hospice, or the
Published in The Greenville News on Jan. 2, 2013