Willis's Story

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Willis Ray England. Feb. 20, 1929 - March 1, 2018
Lt. Col. (Ret) Willis Ray England, of Texarkana, Arkansas, passed away on Thursday, March 1, 2018, at a local nursing home.
He was born Feb. 20, 1929, on a farm near Edmonton, Kentucky, to Lawrence and Mildred England. He weighed but two pounds at birth and his parents placed him in a drawer with wrapped, heated, cast irons for warmth. He survived a tenuous infancy and went on to graduate from Metcalfe County High School in 1947.
After high school, he enlisted in the Army and served in Washington State and the Aleutian Islands. Upon completing his tour of duty, he used the GI Bill to enroll at Western Kentucky University pursuing his passion for history and joined the ROTC contingent, graduating in 1952.
While attending WKU, he met Mary Lee Millay and married in January 1953 prior to his deployment to Korea. They enjoyed 46 years together until Mary Lee's passing in August 1999.
Upon completing his ROTC active duty commitment, he began working for National Supply, an oil field supply company, until he was called back into active service in 1962. He remained in the Army, serving a tour of duty in Vietnam and another tour in Korea. Will loved to travel and the Army was a perfect fit for him. His family was often able to accompany him on tours of duty in foreign lands; Germany and Iran were some of the longest and most interesting. Will took full advantage of the assignments to continue to pursue his interest in world history. He was able to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, and historical ruins in Europe and the Middle East.
Some of the stateside assignments that Will and his family experienced were Fort Gordon, Georgia, Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Sheridan, Illinois, Fort Ord, California, and a stint as the Active Duty Advisor for the Army Reserve Unit in Helena, Montana.
Will retired from the Army in 1978 and began teaching in Devils Lake, North Dakota for three years. He and Mary Lee then returned to their home state of Kentucky.
Will taught history and ROTC and received a double Master's Degree in History and Education. He retired and began substitute teaching for both the Owensboro, Kentucky and Daviess County Public School systems until moving to Texarkana, Arkansas to be nearer to his daughter, Libby and her family, in 2004.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Lee; parents, Lawrence and Mildred England; sister, Dorothy Dowell; and great-grandson, Logan.
Survivors include daughters, Sue and Dallas Dockter, of Tucson, Arizona, Libby and Jack Wolf, of Texarkana, Arkansas, and Jenny and Bob Millner, of Bismarck, North Dakota; and son, Tom and Lynn England, of Helena, Montana; six grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
A private internment ceremony will be held this summer in Kentucky.
Published on March 14, 2018
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