Born: November 21, 1931

Died: January 22, 2009

Celebration of Life: February 21, 2009, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Neil is survived by his wife Marsha; his children, Emily Willis, of Lake Stevens, WA, and Orlo Willis (Trish); and his two grandchildren Jacoy and Garrett Willis of Kenmore, WA. He is also survived by his sisters Margie, Doral and Lora Lea and numerous nieces and nephews.

Neil grew up in a family of musicians and loved good music.  He served his country in the Korean War in the 1950’s.  He was a carpenter for over 45 years.  He loved hunting, fishing and any activity that would take him outdoors.  He loved poetry and this particular poem was special to him:

“To Those I Love” by Isla Paschal Richardson:


If I should ever leave you

    whom I love

To go along the Silent Way,

    grieve not,

Nor speak of me with tears,

    but laugh and talk

Of me as if I were

    beside you there.

(I’d come—I’d come,

    could I but find a way!

But would not tears and grief

    be barriers?)

And when you hear a song

    or see a bird

I loved, please do not let

    the thought of me

Be sad…For I am

    loving you just as

I always have…

    You were always so good to me!

There are so many things

    I wanted still

To do—so many things

    to say to you…

Remember that I

    did not fear…It was

Just leaving you

    that was so hard to face…

We cannot see Beyond…

    But this I know:

I love you so—‘twas heaven

    here with you!


I will always remember my dad as John Wayne. He had the look. He had the walk. He had the voice. My dad was the toughest man I’ve ever met. He endured pain and hardship his whole life and did his best not to let it show. I never saw my dad cry. I always knew I could count on him. There was never anything he wouldn’t give me or do for me. My dad was a strong disciplinarian and he kept me out of trouble in a time when it was easy to cross the line. He taught me the meaning of honor and duty and that a man’s word is his bond. He taught me how to survive in the wilderness and to love and appreciate the outdoors. My dad was a master carpenter and he taught me how to build things, but more importantly, he taught me to figure out and appreciate how things are built. My dad taught me how to fix most things mechanical or structural and he showed me how to improvise when things didn’t go just right. I will forever remember what my dad smelled like; sawdust, leather and gasoline. Thanks for everything, Dad. I love you. Orlo.

He loved nature, spending time watching birds, and the changing of the seasons. However, his greatest enjoyment was spending time with his family. Many thought of him as gruff, but those of us who knew him best knew him to be generous, and loving.  He taught me how to work hard and how to look at a thing, and be able to understand how it works.  He bestowed a love of horses to me at a young age. He could tell you anything you wanted to know about a horse, its lineage, its breed, color, etc.  He also imparted a love of the outdoors to me.  The experience of hunting with him every year turned into a love of hiking and hunting out that perfect “shot” (photo). We didn’t always do things the same way, but everything he taught me extended or expanded to a skill or love of my own. Rest in peace Daddy… love you, Emily

The family deeply appreciates the love and care given to Neil by his doctors, Dr. King and Dr. Kraemer; their staff and Evergreen Hospice.


5 Responses to “NEIL TAYLOR WILLIS”

  • Scott Chaffn says:

    I will always remember the first time that I met Mr. Willis (Neil). I was in 7th grade and Orlo and I had just become friends and Orlo invited me over to his house. Mr. Willis was working on a remodel job on the house (Looking back now, he was always tinkering with the house. He loved it) and I stood at the front door not knowing what to do and he said “Don’t just stand there Scott, come on in and make yourself at home”!! He always made me feel a part of the family and taught me many things like how “MEN” shake hands. One particular memory on “manners by Neil” was on the phone. When I would call for Orlo he would require that I said, “Hello Mr. Willis, this is Scott can I please talk to Orlo” One time I forgot and just said, “Is Orlo there” He hung up on me. When I called back, I asked to speak to Orlo the way he had requested and he said to me, “See Scott, that was not that tough was it? And is sounded so much nicer” Because of Mr. Willis I passed those manners onto my children. I have also taught my son, how “Men” shake hands. His legacy will live on in his son Orlo, who is the man that Mr. Willis wanted him to be. Orlo loves his wife, loves his children and loves life. Mr. Willis (even today I cannot call him Neil and I am 41yo) shaped the lives of all of Orlo and Emily’s friends. He had and influence beyond his family and he understood that and took his responsibility seriously. My prayers go out for his friends and family, he will be missed but not forgotten.

  • Lin Constans says:

    Uncle Neil was my James Dean. He would come to visit my family when I was a young girl – so handsome and dashing, in that red sports car. He was comfortable and patient with us kids and shared his wonderful laugh and that dazzling smile easily. He is and always will be bigger than life for me. That’s what happens to little girls with their first big crush.

  • Marcie says:

    I will miss you Uncle Neil, I am so glad you, Aunt Marsha, Orlo,Trish, Jacoby, Garret, & Emelie, were all able to make it to mom’s for the family reunion. It will be a time I will never forget.
    Thank you all, good bye Uncle Neil, I love you!

  • Lora Lea says:

    What a hole you have left in my heart. You – – the last of my four brothers.
    Growing up, you were the typical “little brother.”
    I know you wouldn’t like that appellation, but stand, it must. You did, finally, become a friend, instead of just little brother.
    I already miss you, Neil.
    With love, your big sister,
    Lora Lea

  • Keeston Chin says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I know Marsha from the gym, I was her pilates and water aerobics instructor for several years. She often told wonderfull stories of Neil and their entire family. You were truely blessed to have him in your lives. Know that he can now watch over all of you. Our prayers are with you all.

    Keeston Chin and the Bally Total Fitness Family

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