Julian Everette Willis
Born: October 5, 1919 Died: June 13, 1995
by Randy Willis
Julian Everette Willis was my father. He was the son of Randall Lee Willis (whom I was named after) and Lillie Gertrude Hanks Willis. He married my mother, Ruth Lawson Willis (b. Apr. 25, 1913; d. Oct. 13, 1994) on June 26, 1948, in Long Leaf, Louisiana. Both are buried at Butter Cemetery near Forest Hill, Louisiana. Daddy had two brothers: Howard and Herman Willis. My mother, Ruth Lawson Willis, was the daughter of Robert S. Lawson (b. Mar. 25, 1868; d. 1941) and Nina Ruth Hanks Lawson (b. Oct. 27, 1891; d. July 16, 1962).
Daddy fought in W.W.II., in the Army Aircore, and was on Iwo Jima at he end of the war. He joined the Army Aircore after hearing of his first cousin and friend, Robert K. "Bobby" Willis Jr.'s death on the USS Arizona December 7, 1941. Daddy said he was the nicest person he ever knew.
Robert K. "Bobby" Willis Jr. was the first casualty from Rapides Parish, Louisiana in World War II. The American Legion Post in Pineville, Louisiana (his last hometown) was named the Robert K. "Bobby" Willis Jr. Post in honor of his service and duty to his country. (This American Legion Post no longer exists). He is entombed in the USS Arizona at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. He was the first casualty from Rapides Parish, Louisiana in World War II.
After the war daddy married my mother, drove a bus for Continental Trailways in Alexandria, Louisiana and played steel guitar.
One day, my half-sister Johnnie Ruth (who is 16-years-older than me) brought her young beau to our home, located near Long Leaf, Louisiana to meet our parents. His name was Jimmy Day. He saw my dad practicing the steel and asked him to teach him how to play. Daddy taught Jimmy how to tune and play the steel guitar, and he and another local steel player, by the name of Harold Whatley, taught Jimmy his first licks on the steel. My dad and Jimmy both played in the local Happy McNichol's band. The first venue that they both played was The Wigwam. Jimmy later played for Web Pierce, Hank Williams, Sr., Elvis, Pasty Cline, Ray Price, Willie Nelson and others. After moving to Alabama, Jimmy talked his new best friend, Floyd Cramer, into learning the piano (Jimmy told him he needed to choose an instrument other than the steel).
Daddy and mother moved to Clute, Texas, from Long Leaf, in 1954, so daddy could work at Dow Chemical. He also raised horses, mules, and cows. We then moved to Angleton, Texas in 1960. We lived in the middle of several rice fields between Angleton and Danbury on the Old Danbury Road.
Daddy had a very strong work ethic. He always rose before sunrise and worked late. He wasn't much on going to church, but had strong values and beliefs. He believed in God but he wasn't much for people that used that belief as some type of banner for political or personal gain. He was a staunch Democrat and extremely opinionated in politics. (As a conservative, I avoided political discussions with him at all cost). He was a champion of equals rights for both minorities and women way before those beliefs were in vogue.
He was also, Trail Boss for many years of the Brazoria County Trail Ride (see photo below) and was a board member of the Brazoria County Fair and Rodeo Association. He was a major union leader at Dow Chemical and later Business Agent for the Operating Engineers. He was a leader and many people said he reminded them of a real life John Wayne. He was very patriotic and loved to hunt and fish. He loved football and would call me after the Dallas Cowboys games too discuss the game. He taught manners to his kids and respect for their elders and despised off-color language, especially around women. He had a lot of friends and was respected by most that knew him. He was the real deal; a man's man.