Debra Willis

Debra Diane Willis, 70, was welcomed home to heaven Tuesday morning, May 31st at Memorial Hospital at Stone County in Wiggins. She was born May 22, 1952 in Hattiesburg, the oldest of five children to Hardy Thomas and Margie Nell (Moore) Hill. Debra grew up in the Sunrise community of Petal, where she enjoyed the country life of South Mississippi. But she got to experience other areas too, as the family moved to Pensacola, FL for a while before returning to Hattiesburg. Debra attended Petal schools, graduating with the Panther Class of 1970. She happened to meet Buster at a church Fall Festival in 1969, and that began their relationship, which would last for many years to come. They were married June 6, 1970 and would have celebrated 52 years in a few days. The young couple made their home in McHenry, spending their entire lives here. Debra was a faithful Christian woman and quickly became a member at Buster's home church, McHenry First Baptist. Debra immediately became an active member and remained so since. She worked at Wilson's Pharmacy for a couple of years before her and Buster started The Second Time Around Shop in Wiggins. She ran it for a few years before deciding to sell, and she went to work as substitute and teacher's assistant at Perkinston Elementary. After a couple of years there, Debra decided to return to school and enrolled at MGCCC. When a job opening came up at the school, she decided to apply and was selected. Debra graduated with a degree in Business Administration, and held a couple of positions at Gulf Coast over the next few years, serving as a secretary and assistant for the GED program. Debra eventually retired as the secretary to the librarian, after more than 20 years of service. She was an active woman to say the least, one who always took care of her family and others before herself. She was very active in the church through the years, always making sure the church was decorated for any holiday or occasion. Debra also made sure that those who were sick or down got a card plus a floral arrangement, fruit or gift basket, or something from the church, often paying for it herself. She has led music, taught Sunday School and VBS, coordinated dinners, made sure there were enough supplies, and did so much over the years. But no matter what, her family however, was absolutely at the top of her list. Debra made sure that her and Buster never missed anything her kids or grandkids were doing. Nothing. To sum her up, let's simply say that she wasn't afraid to take charge and make sure whatever needed doing, got done. Debra was a lot of things to a lot of people, and the reason for that is simple. She was literally full of love and was constantly pouring herself out. Love for the Lord, for her family, and for others. She served them all with passion, and is today enjoying a very well deserved rest. Debra will absolutely be missed beyond measure. She was preceded by her parents, Hardy "Speedy" and Margie Hill, and her infant sister, Brenda. Left to cherish her memories are: her devoted husband James "Buster" Willis; their two children, daughter Jolene (Eric) Strickland of McHenry, and their son, Clifton (Leta) Willis of Saucier; her siblings, brothers Tommy Hill (Rosemary Lowery) and Leslie (Rita) Hill, both of Petal, and her sister Phyllis (Ronnie) Porcello of Ovett; her sister-in-law Marie Fairchild of Hattiesburg, and her brother-in-law, Billy Joe Willis of McHenry. Debra leaves a legacy of seven grandchildren: Braden, Carson, Ava, and Cela Strickland, and Kelsey, Kirsten, and Lauren Willis, along with numerous extended family and friends through the years. Funeral services were held Friday, June 3rd in the sanctuary of McHenry First Baptist Church with Bro. Wayne Flurry officiating. Interment followed in McHenry Gardens Cemetery. Trinity Funeral Services is honored to serve the Willis family in their time of need, and asks that you remember Buster and the entire crew in your prayers over the days ahead.

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