Cover photo for James Byron Willis Jr.'s Obituary
James Byron Willis Jr. Profile Photo
1944 James 2021

James Byron Willis Jr.

January 11, 1944 — June 9, 2021

Jim Willis was born Jan. 11, 1944 in Fremont, Ohio, and died June 9, 2021 in Polson. He was respected by many as “Doc Willis.” For over 40 years he served as a town dentist for thousands of grateful patients. Along with his beloved staff, he made dentistry an unfrightening appointment. Constantly learning new techniques and tools, he delighted in helping others through a frequently difficult time.

He hated being retired. He didn’t miss the dentistry; he missed his patients. He had been so active over his time in Polson: soccer league, softball, fishing, gardening and target practice, not to mention his marvelous woodworking shop. He served for many years on the Jette Lake Landowners Board, especially on the Water Committee.

He loved watching the girls’ softball games and Polson High School football, sitting in the cowbell section.

He was heard frequently saying that he lived in his vacation spot and saw no reason for out-of-state travel. He was buoyed by his surroundings and his friends, having a special warmth for those of his friends in sobriety. He served for many years on the Montana Professional Assistance Program.

Family camping trips of earlier days found traveling all over Montana in his beloved VW Vanagon. Sometimes the camping trips were thinly disguised wood gathering jaunts. Ditto any fishing trips. He loved heating with wood.

He was a Navy veteran of the Vietnam era, proud to serve and always appreciative of those who have served or are serving today.

He is survived by Cindy, his wife of over 50 years; his hardworking, successful sons David (Francine) of Bend, Ore., and John (Gayle) of Salisbury, Md. His cousin, Charels Mann, and wife Donna reside in Columbus, Ohio. They are remaining members of his mother’s family.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Martha Willis, of Maryland, and his younger brother, Gregg, of Texas. Gregg’s two sons, Tim (Kristin and Ethan) and James, live in Texas.

A service is being planned for later this summer – probably mid-August. Condolences may be sent to The Lake Mortuary or to P.O. Box 7 in Polson. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the North Lake County Library Foundation, P.O. Box 74, Polson.
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