Willis Wilson

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  • "Betty Jean, I am so sorry to hear of cousin Willis'..."
    - Kevin Jones
  • - Sara Rollins O'Connor
  • "Jean, our thoughts are with you. We have many memories of..."
    - /Willard and Evelyn Finch
  • "Sweet Jean, Just learned of Willis Homegoing We wanted to..."
    - Dawson/C Hart Turnage Smith
  • "Preacher Willis was a man of great love and humor. His..."
    - Johnny & Allyson Pilgreen
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WINTERVILLE - Surrounded by family, the Rev. Willis Whichard Wilson, 81, went home to be with the Lord on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014.
The funeral and committal service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Reedy Branch Original Free Will Baptist Church, 4457 Reedy Branch Road, Winterville.
Born on Jan. 18, 1933, to David Julius and Allie Bert Wilson of Stokes, Willis was the next to the youngest in a family of 15 children. He is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Betty Jean Warren Wilson; brother, Fletcher Wilson and wife Kay of Rocky Mount; and sister-in-law, Margaret Langley of Greenville. He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Lucy Weiss and Brownie Andrews; half-brothers, Marshal Wilson, James Edgar Langley, J.D. Langley, and Moses Langley; and half-sisters, Julia Ross, Flossie Goode, Katie Barnhill, Carrie Wilson, Renie Wilson, Virgina Clayton, and Mildred Hardison. Though Willis and Jean had no children of their own, Willis is survived by countless numbers of nieces, nephews, and others who love and esteem him.
Willis attended Stokes Elementary School, Winterville School and Stokes High School, where he graduated in 1951. While in high school, he was introduced to the art of public speaking as a member of the Future Farmers of America, Beta Club, and Glee Club, and served as vice president of his senior class of which he was voted the "Best All Around Boy Student." It was during this time that he discovered a love for telling jokes and refined his abilities as a storyteller. He also began a life-long love affair with automobiles, earning the nickname "car bug."
At the age of 13, Willis accepted Christ as his Savior. In 1951, he rededicated his life to the Lord and, after a year of much thought and prayer, he accepted the call to the ministry. In the fall of 1952, he entered the Free Will Baptist Bible College in Tennessee where he spent a summer singing with the college quartet, traveling some 8,000 miles to 68 churches in various states. On December 28, 1954, at Sweet Gum Grove Free Will Baptist Church, Willis received the charge from his uncle, the Rev. Dennis Alexander, and was ordained. He graduated from college and began his ministry, pastoring at Piney Grove Free Will Baptist Church in Beaufort County from 1955-1961; Hickory Grove Free Will Baptist Church from 1955-1963, Pleasant Hill Free Will Baptist Church from 1961-63, and finally at Reedy Branch Free Will Baptist Church from 1963-1995, where he served 32 years before retiring. During his 59 years of service, Reverend Willis Wilson preached thousands of sermons, conducted hundreds of baptisms, weddings and funerals, and spoke at countless church, civic, and community events. He taught Sunday school and prepared the weekly church bulletin. He served as moderator of the Central Conference for three terms, was president of the State Convention for three years, director of youth camps at Cragmont for nine years, president of the Board of Directors for Cragmont for nine years, and was a member of the Ordaining Council. On Jan. 27, 1969, he was named Minister of Year. On Nov. 6, 1983, Reedy Branch honored his devotion and labor of love to the church with the dedication of the Wilson Fellowship Hall. At his 50th year of Christian service celebration he was asked if he would do it all again. He replied, "Absolutely, without a doubt!"
Along with his love and service to the Lord and his church, Reverend Willis Wilson will be remembered for his great sense of humor and endless line of jokes, as well as his woodworking shop and toys. He had a talent for making all who spoke with him laugh and feel loved. His favorite verse was Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Words could never express the gratitude felt for the love and support shown by family and friends, not only during his last months, but also throughout his life. The family will receive visitors from 4-6 p.m. today at Reedy Branch Church, and other times at the home on 620 Davenport Farm Road, Winterville. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Reedy Branch Church, 4457 Reedy Branch Road, Winterville, NC 28590. Arrangements are by Wilkerson Funeral Home and Crematory, Greenville. Online condolences at www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com.
Funeral Home
Wilkerson Funeral Home and Crematory
2100 East Fifth Street
Greenville, NC 27858
(252) 752-2101
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Published in The Daily Reflector on Aug. 3, 2014