Alyce G. Willis

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Mrs. Alyce Gordon Willis of South Chesterfield passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, in the loving presence of family.

Alyce was born in Warsaw, Va., on Nov. 12, 1925, to Howard and Elizabeth Prosser Gordon. She was the widow of Hulon L. Willis Sr., her college sweetheart, to whom she married on June 14, 1947.

Alyce was predeceased by two sisters, Mozelle W. Scott and Dr. Vivian G. Howard; a foster brother, Francis "Frankie" L. Moore; and three nephews, Roderick Howard, Martino Moore and Charles Vaughan Jr.

Alyce was baptized at an early age at Wellfords Wharf in Warsaw, as a member of Clarksville Baptist Church. She affiliated with the Virginia State College Chapel for approximately 20 years, prior to joining the Historic Gillfield Baptist Church in 1964.

Alyce received the Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia State College (now University) in 1947 in Business Administration, and was named an honorary alumna of The College of William and Mary in 2004. Alyce's extraordinary professional career was launched as a student secretary to Dr. John M. Gandy, president emeritus of Virginia State University. Her career, spanning more than 40 years at Virginia State University, included: chief payroll clerk, administrative assistant to the Office of Minority Business Enterprises, management programs coordinator, fiscal and accounting technician, and executive secretary to the vice president of research and development. She retired in 1988, and worked part-time at the university for several years following her official retirement.

Alyce was highly respected for her exceptional (first-class) professionalism and organizational expertise, and was genuinely admired for the warmth and affection shared with her family and friends. Alyce and her husband, Hulon "Coach" Willis, focused their lives around their children, family, friends, and making an indelible impact on the Virginia State University and local community. Alyce opened her loving home to many Virginia State University (then College) students and athletes, who felt loved and cared for while away from their families. Through many years, numerous students lived with the Willis family (without any cost to them), while attending VSU.

Alyce held membership in, and served as an officer and on committees of numerous civic and professional organizations to include: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., where she chaired committees and projects with the Petersburg Alumnae Chapter, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Silhouettes, former member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and Secretary of the Steering Committee of the Association of Parents, College of William and Mary. She is a Retired Life Member of the Tri-City, Virginia, and National Associations of Educational Office Professionals (formerly Educational Secretaries), and received the State Association's Secretary of the Year in 1977. She was a founding member of the Virginia State University Staff Council and the Tri-City Association of Educational Secretaries (now Office Professionals). Alyce rendered many volunteer services to the Virginia State University and The College of William and Mary Alumni Associations, the American Cancer Society, and the Leukemia Society. She has earned numerous awards and honors for her outstanding service and unselfish devotion. In 1994, Virginia State University awarded her the prestigious Certificate of Merit, and in October of 2012, The William and Mary Alumni Association recognized her service at the 20th Anniversary of the Hulon Willis Association. She served as an ex-officio board member of the Hulon Willis Association of The College of William and Mary Alumni Association.

Alyce Willis leaves behind many to cherish her loving legacy. They are her daughter and best friend, Kimberley Willis Miles and her husband, Hal Miles of the home; her loving son, Hulon Willis Jr. (Gloria); a loving granddaughter, Mica Willis of Chesterfield, Va., and her mother, Mamie Willis of Greenbelt, Md.; dedicated grandchildren, Hal II, Britney, and Alysha Miles. Other devoted relatives and friends include: a loyal foster son, Dr. Herbert V. Tobias (Barbara) of Vienna, Va.; nieces, Vivian Braxton (Hezekiah) of Baltimore, Md., Adrienne Scott of Washington, D.C., and Linda Howard of New York, N.Y.; nephew, Roscoe C. Howard Jr. (Deborah) of Chantilly, Va.; great-nephews, Hezy Braxton of Ruther Glen, Va., Victor (Connie), Vincent (Ebony), and Vernon (Camille) Vaughan of Maryland, Ryan and Adam Howard of Chantilly, Va., and Roderick Winston Howard of Richmond, Va.; great-nieces, Shawn Braxton of Baltimore, Md., and Angel Howard of Richmond, Va.; several great-great-nieces and nephews; nephews-in-law, Steven Giles (Karen) of Bowie, Md., Lee Willis (Janet) of Pittsburgh, and Ralph Willis (Fatan) of Chapel Oaks, Md.; nieces-in-law, Gina Giles Digby of Woodbridge, Va., Marianne Giles Ali of Bowie, Md., Deborah Giles of Los Angeles, Calif., Ramona Howard, of Richmond, Va., Allison Black of Maryland, and Nancy Willis Johnson of Greenbelt, Md., Dr. Gwendolyn Willis-Darpoh (Lawrence) of Bowie, Md., and Louella Perkins of Capitol Heights, Md.; foster grandchildren, Vincent Tobias of Hawaii and Ngina Tobias, California; godchildren, Julie Gregory Grace of Jonesboro, Ga., Priscilla Woodson Brown (Dennis) of Stone Mountain, Ga., Deborah Johnson of Richmond, Va., and Daniel Wright of Philadelphia; and very special friends, Romaine Pickett, Kim Riddle, Maxcine Coulton, Michael Morse, Dr. Ernie Turner and Henry Hackney.

Special appreciation is extended to Dr. Harry Bear, Dr. Bruce Hillner, Dr. Brent Perkins, Dr. Kevin Brigle, NP, other physicians and the nursing staffs at the VCU Hospitals, and her late caregiver, Michelle Tyus, for the excellent and compassionate care given during serious illnesses since 1985. Alyce outlived many medical challenges.

A funeral service will be held at noon Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, at Gillfield Baptist Church, 209 Perry St., Petersburg, Va., with the Rev. Dr. George W.C. Lyons Jr., pastor, eulogist. Interment to follow at Wilkerson Memorial Cemetery.

The Delta Sigma Theta Omega Omega Ceremony and family visitation will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, at the funeral establishment.

The family will receive friends at 20008 Roosevelt Ave., South Chesterfield, Va., and may be contacted by calling 804-712-3714.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Hulon and Alyce Willis Scholarship Fund at Virginia State University, mailed to Director of Development, VSU Foundation, P.O. Box 9027, Petersburg, VA 23806; or to the Hulon Willis Association Scholarship Fund, William and Mary Alumni Association, mailed to The College of William and Mary, P.O. Box 2100, Williamsburg, VA 23187-2100.

Family members and friends are invited to pay final tribute to Mrs. Willis at

Funeral arrangements entrusted to the staff of J.M. Wilkerson Funeral Establishment Inc., 102 South Ave., Petersburg, Va., 804-732-8911,
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J M Wilkerson Funeral Establishment, Inc.
102 South Avenue
Petersburg, VA 23803
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Published in The Progress-Index from Dec. 27 to Dec. 29, 2012
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