Robert Clay Willis, 60, of Amarillo, died Monday, April 17, 2000.
Services are at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Paramount Terrace Christian Church with Rev. Dale Hoggatt, Senior Adult and Men's minister, officiating. Burial will be in Memorial Park Cemetery by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2820 Virginia Circle.
Mr. Willis was born and lived all his life in Amarillo. He graduated from Amarillo High School and West Texas State University. He retired from IBM after 20 years as a marketing representative. He was a real estate agent and member of Amarillo Board of Realtors. He was a member of San Jacinto Masonic Lodge No. 1330, Scottish Rite, Lubbock Consistory, Khiva Shrine Temple and Shrine Duffers. He was a member of Paramount Terrace Christian Church.
He married Barbara Raffkind in 1980 at Amarillo. Survivors include his wife; two daughters, Kristi Willis and Ginger Bordeau, both of Austin; and a sister, Mrs. Norman "Pat" Adams of Wichita Falls.
The family suggests memorials be to Khiva Shrine Temple, P.O. Box 328, Amarillo, TX 79105.
Amarillo Daily News, April 18, 2000
Remembering Bob Willis
Pete Meador: AHS '58 Sandies Chat Site
Bob Willis...the guy with the pink face and the orange hair. Who could ever forget that unique combination of physical attributes. Add tothat image the big grin he usually wore, and Bob had an appearance that invited good-natured teasing, which he always took so well.
Bob and I began our friendship during the fall of our sophomore year. He played for the Yannigans, and I was the Yannigan manager. He had come from Sam Houston....I had come from Stephen F. Austin. We quickly became good friends. After our sophomore year, Bob decided that he would join the Amarillo Boxing Club and focus his athletic abilities on training for the Golden Gloves. He aspired to win the welter weight championship in the Amarillo regional finals and move on to the state tournament in Fort Worth and then, hopefully, to the national tournament in Chicago. Bob always aimed high as a boxer. He suggestedthat I join ABC with him, which I did. We remained fast friends throughout high school and beyond.
Bob had many personal traits which made him such a personable and likable guy, and which earned him great respect. Of all those traits,the one I think I will always remember the most was his fearlessness.He was one of the most fearless persons I have ever known. Two incidents come to mind that revealed his fearlessness.
During the years that Bob was finishing his degree at WT, he owned and operated a roofing company, which was often a one-man enterprise. One summer he put a new roof on our house. The homes of many of our neighbors were also in need of a new roof, and my parents enthusiastically recommended Bob. During a very severe thunderstormafter Bob had put a new roof on many of the houses in our neighborhood, one of the new roofs developed a serious leak. The owner immediately called Bob, and Bob came immediately at the height of the storm and repaired the leak. I wasn't at home when this happened, but my parents told me that there were multiple air-to-ground lightning strikes in the area while Bob was up on the neighbor's roof. When I asked Bob about this later on a visit home, he simply said, "I had no choice, I put that roof on that house."
The second example of Bob's fearlessness was a shooting incident in which Bob very nearly lost his life. Those of you who knew Bob well already know about this incident, but many of you probably know little or nothing about it. I don't recall the exact year, but I think it was in the mid-to-late 1970's. Bob was an IBM copier specialist in a Texas panhandle-eastern New Mexico territory. He and a sales rep had made a call on a customer in Roswell late one afternoon, and then stayed after business hours to visit with the owner. Two men, one a disgruntled former employee of the business, entered the owner's office. The former employee was armed with a pistol. The intent of the two men had been to take the owner to a remote area outside of Roswell and kill him. Shortly after the gunmen arrived, the owner's wife and two children walked into the office. Now the disgruntled employee and hisaccomplice had six people on their hands, not just the man they came to kill. Because so many people were now involved, the gunmen decided to take everyone away in the owner's van, instead of the car in which the gunmen had arrived. This was a stroke of luck, because in their haste and frustration, the gunmen left armed only with a pistol, leaving behind sawed-off shotgun they had brought in their car.
Bob, his sales rep friend, the business owner, his wife, and the two children were taken to a remote area of a state park near Roswell. During the ride, Bob kept agitating the disgruntled employee, keeping the man focused on himself instead of the others. When the gunman lined them up at the top of a hill, Bob called out to the other victims to stay spread out and to fall backward and roll downhill if the shooting started, which it soon did. Bob was the shooter's first target. He was hit twice. All of the others did as Bob had said...they fell backward and rolled down the hill. No one else was hit as the gunman emptied the pistol. Some visitors in the park witnessed the shooting and called the police. The disgruntled employee died in a shoot-out a short while later at a police roadblock. Bob spent several weeks in the hospital, including several days in ICU in extremely critical condition. He lost a lung.
The point of these two stories is simple. When the chips were down and the stakes were high, Bob simply took care of business, with little regard for any risk to himself. He was just that kind of a guy.
Those two bullets didn't take Bob, but a few years ago, cancer did.
It is usually fitting to end a tribute to a good friend with a story that would make the friend laugh if he were here with us. I will try do that now. The subject of the story, as you might suspect, is the pink face and the orange hair.
Bob was within one fight of winning the Amarillo regional title in the 1958 Golden Gloves. Then, it would be on to the state tournament. Bob wanted to win that fight as badly as any high school athlete ever wanted to win anything. Unfortunately, the reigning champion, Bobby Wilhelm, knocked Bob out stone cold with a hard left. For the next few weeks, Bob had a HUGE bruise with an array of blue, purple, and green colors that covered the whole right side of that pink face, with all of those colors capped with that shock of orange hair. What a sight to behold! For several days, I simply could not keep from laughing whenever I saw him. He, too, would always laugh....in part, I'm sure, to deal with his disappointment over losing the fight, but also because he was always such a damned good sport and took the teasing so well. I can still see that bruised face, and I can still hear him laugh about it.
Bob was a great friend and a great guy.
Lewis Dubuque: AHS '58 Sandies Chat Site
Pete what a great tribute to Bobby. Bobby and I spent a lot of time together while I was at Tech and after when I was working for PS&F. He introduced me to a lot of attractive young ladies that were his friends. He was a lot of fun and also very tought. I recall one night at the HI-De-Ho across from Stanley's a big fight was breaking out and Bobby got in the middle of it to stop it. He also injured my shoulder one evening to keep me out of trouble but that is a story that needs to be forgotten.
Pete Meador: 58 AHS Friends Chat Site
I witnessed Bob break up several fights. He often stepped in to prevent the fight by facing down the fighter with the hottest temper. I never saw anyone redirect their attention to Bob and take him on.They just walked away. I think that was due in part to the fact that he was likely to win the fight, but also in part to the fact that everyone liked and respected Bob so much.
Bob was awesome