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George Marion Willis

George was born April 19, 1923, in Tifton, Ga. His family moved to Orlando when he was seven years old and later to Sanford, Fla., where he grew up. As a teenager, he worked as a stock boy at McCrory's 5 & 10 and was known as Sanford's Telegraph Boy. All this was accomplished after school hours while attending Sanford High School. His lifetime work ethic was developed during those difficult depression years. After high school, he entered the Army Air Corp where he became a crew chief for the service and maintenance of bombers during WWII. A "buddy" said George could tear a plane down into a thousand parts and reassemble like new.

Following the war, he entered college on the G.I. Bill and graduated from Southwestern Seminary with a BS and MS in Theology and later attained a degree in Education. George became a Christian at sixteen and was a strong committed Christian throughout his life. He taught Bible classes, led Bible study groups and filled the pulpit for many churches in central Florida for pastors to enjoy their vacations. As he was also known for his great speaking voice, he served as narrator for numerous church cantatas and pageants. He was a charter member of Fellowship Baptist Church.

Following several years in private education, he served as Director of Admissions at Southern Business College, in Orlando. In 1970, he went into the real estate and land development business and remained in business until retirement.

He met Jo near the end of the 60s and they were wed on Aug. 5, 1972. At proposal, George made it very clear that he loved her and was ready to care for her, but no one would interfere in his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

His affiliations include: President of the first Countywide School Advisory Committee in Seminole County; Member of the Sanford Planning and Zoning Board; President of the Eastbrook Elementary PTA; Appointment by Governor Lawton Chiles to the Healthy Start Coalition Board; Kiwanis International; and Madison County Foundation for Excellence in Education, Inc.

George was a founder and charter member of the Madison County Foundation for Excellence in Education, Inc. He served on the Board of MCFEE for twenty-four years. In Kiwanis, the service organization for which he had great passion, he served as Club President, various committee chairs, Lt. Governor and President of the Florida Kiwanis District Foundation. He was a Hixson Fellow Recipient and had 44 years of perfect attendance in Kiwanis. He was recognized as the 1999 Madison County Citizen of the Year.

He knew how to work hard, but he also knew how to play hard. The family enjoyed many days

in their boat, the "Lucky Charm." He enjoyed much fun with family, swimming, skiing, fishing and exploring the St. John's River from Sanford to Jacksonville. He was also an avid golfer. The family enjoyed many years of travel across the US, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico.

George was pre-deceased by his parents, siblings and two daughters, Nina Ruth and Sharon Rose. A brother gave his life on D-Day.

Survivors include his wife, Jo, of Madison; daughter, Elizabeth Hill (Doyle), of Huntsville, Ala.; step-children, Craig Smith (Traci), of Clanton, Ala.; Millie Reaves, (Tom), of Tallahassee, Fla.; sister, Lucy Magill (Jim), of Laurel, Md.; eleven grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, Aug. 3, at First United Methodist Church of Madison with Rev. Jackie Watts and Rev. Steve McHargue officiating. Service will begin at 11 a.m. with a visitation beginning one hour prior to the service at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Fellowship Baptist Church or Kiwanis Club of Madison Scholarships. All arrangements are under the direction of Joe P. Burns Funeral Home of Madison.

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