MARION DENNIS WILLS
Marion Dennis Wills began the new year in the presence of his Lord on January 1, 2021, just 12 days before his 97th birthday. Dennis was born on January 13, 1924 in Preston, Georgia and lived his whole life on his farm he loved so much. His beloved parents were Oscar Ray Wills, Sr. and Gussie Blanche West Wills.
A private graveside service for immediate family only will be held at Macedonia Baptist Church with the Reverend Dick Reese officiating. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
In addition to his parents, Dennis was preceded in death by his wife as he said of 64 years, one month, three weeks and two days, Doris Hilda Matthews Wills, who he met at a school event where he stole the red ribbon from her hair. From their extraordinary love, he is survived by his children, Ronnie (Carmine) Wills of Thomasville, Yvonne (Wayne) Coalson of Camilla, Sherrie (Mack) Hales of Gainesville and by ten grandchildren: Andy (Melanie) Wills, Susan (Russ) Boyer, Ben (Stephanie) Wills, Beth (Edward) Acuff, Katie (PJ) Adams, Stacey (Brian) Morgan, Chad (Jessica) Hales, Jason (Sarah) Hales, Denise (Jamie) Butler, and Adam Darrah. In addition he leaves 26 great-grandchildren. He used to say of he and his love Doris, “Look what we started.” He also loved his many nieces and nephews and friends. Dennis took great pride in his family and loved them deeply. When asked what he wanted for his last Father’s Day, he said, “I want everybody to be happy and healthy.”
Ways to describe this amazing, strong and yet gentle man are: faithful Christian, devoted son, loving husband, excellent father and grandfather, generous and caring friend, successful farmer, talented wood carver and clock maker, perfectionist, great sense of humor, involved church and community leader, knowledgeable Sunday School teacher, helper and lover of people, gardener, exerciser, walker, biker, and a truly wise man. He believed in the motto he taught his children, “Do your Best in whatever you do.” He believed in the importance of education, the importance of having a positive outlook on life, the appreciation of all of God’s creation no matter how large or small. He felt called to make others happy as he once said about his goal in his assisted living. He wanted to check on his friends and make them smile when they were sad. He was always able to bring a smile to others, especially his wife Doris. Once he walked in to find she was sad and crying while playing the piano. And he said, “It doesn’t sound so good to me either but I’m not crying about it.” Examples of his positive attitude are found in some statements like: “Treat others the way you want to be treated; Make the best of every situation; Say it’s a good day if you wake up in the morning; I’ve seen many moons on this land and I’m thankful for every one; I don’t forget to be thankful.” He will certainly be remembered for his sweet potatoes, his carvings and beautiful grandfather clocks, one of which he made and gave to each of his children and grandchildren. Dennis gifted the Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum on St. Simons Island one of his few carved nativity scenes. When being interviewed about his carving, he once said, “You can’t tell what’s in an old man’s head.”
Dennis was a leader in his church as Board member, lay speaker, Sunday School teacher most of his adult life and a leader in the community serving as Chairman of the Board of Education, board member for South Georgia Technical College, on boards for Sumter EMC, the Soil and Conservation Committee, Board of Tax Assessors and Gold Kist. He and Doris were active in the Emmaus community and helped with numerous walks where they made lifelong friends. They worked on the kitchen crew and served meals where Dennis carved fruits and vegetables to decorate the serving tables at each meal. Dennis also made small crosses to give to the participants in Emmaus walks, around 10,000 crosses.
The end of Dennis’ earthly life is the beginning of a wonderful heavenly life where the Lord said, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:21. And in the words of Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Special thanks are given to caregivers that were so caring and helpful. Anyone wishing to give a memorial gift, please consider Preston United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 21, Preston, Georgia 31824 . Funeral arrangements are made by Little-Davenport Funeral Home in Gainesville, Georgia, www.littledavenport.com.
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