Eileen Willis 1936-2020
Eileen Willis, a longtime resident of Hoyt and most recently living in Gardner, died on Memorial Day, May 25, 2020, at her home.
Eileen was born Dec. 6, 1936. She grew up on an old-fashioned farm outside Emmett.
She met her husband, Marvin, while he was playing trumpet professionally at a dance. The couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this year. After their marriage, Eileen and Marvin lived in Hoyt where Marvin owned the Phillips 66 gas station. The couple and two children later moved just outside of town, where Eileen grew large flower gardens and canned many homegrown vegetables.
Later in life she helped care for ailing family members. She and Marvin took to the road in a fifth-wheel recreational vehicle and for years visited many parts of the United States, including the Ozarks and the Black Hills in South Dakota. They often lived winters in Mission, Texas, where they had many friends who also wintered in that area.
Eileen loved growing flowers throughout her life. Big flower beds bloomed with petunias, marigolds and an array of flowers at the home place in Hoyt for several decades.
She worked at Jostens, where high school yearbooks were published in Topeka. Eileen was a longtime gentle parishioner at St. Francis Catholic Church in Mayetta and later at Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mission, Texas.
In the 1970s she was a sewing leader for 4-Hers in the Hoyt Livewires 4-H Club. She also served as the adult leader of the local Girl Scout troop in Hoyt and took the girls on tent camping trips in the woods. Baking all kinds of cakes and brownies was a specialty. Later she attended many baseball and softball games and horse shows.
She is survived by husband Marvin Willis, Gardner; children Tracy Willis Wingate (Jeff), Olathe, and Dick Willis, Rapid City, S.D.; one sister, Kathleen Hayes; and grandchildren Dustin Willis Chapman, Kristin Wingate and Kylie Wingate. Burial will be held at a private family ceremony in the Hoyt Cemetery.
Eileen was preceded in death by her large Stueve family, including parents Anna and Allie Stueve and siblings Henry Stueve, Mary Ann Lonnon, Rita May Coyle, Francis Stueve and Gerald Stueve.
No flowers, please.
In Texas, Eileen and Marvin often volunteered as Salvation Army Bell ringers during Christmas season. Little kids would run to greet Eileen, who gave out bags full of Tootsie Rolls — so many Tootsie Rolls that the local Walmart floor was littered with Tootsie Roll wrappers.
Donations may be made to these children through Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mission, Texas. Money will be for children’s school supplies, clothing, educational outings and a fulfilling life for these smaller children.
Photos may be viewed at https://blackhillsphoto.com/m/