WILLIS, Benjamin Louis "Ben" June 12, 1938 toApril 9, 2017 Born in Bay Minette, Alabama, Ben attended the local high school, playing football as a cornerback and lineman. He attended West Point Military Academy, graduating in 1961. While there, he was awarded a Brigade boxing championship and played football for 3 years. "Col Ben" had a distinguished career in the army including 4 tours of duty in Vietnam as an Airborne Ranger in the 101st Infantry. He served under General Colin Powell among other high ranking military leaders. Achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, he was awarded numerous medals and commendations, including Bronze and Silver Stars.. After military retirement, he worked with private industry in environmental cleanup and as a private investigator. Ben experienced a major change in his life after God led him to North Springs Methodist Church. He became a faithful servant leader there, touching many lives for Christ. He was the self-appointed kitchen and fellowship director, known for his "almost famous" pork BBQ with all the fix'ns. Ben's interests included: Crimson Tide Football, organizing church Red Cross Blood Drives (becoming state leader in most pints from churches), fishing, reading, national politics, sports cars, planning events, poker, an occasional fine cigar, cooking, and friendship in numerous circles. Ben was preceded in death by his parents, Ester May and Newnan F Willis Sr, a brother Newnan F Willis Jr. and sisters Helen Willis Richardson, Jean Willis Calvert and Ann Willis. He leaves behind his extended family of cousins, nieces and nephews, the family of Kathleen Askins, friends from his growing up years in Bay Minette, and a huge faith and military family. He will be remembered for his curmudgeonly, if not straightforward ways, his sense of humor, concern for others, and his faith for which he tirelessly toiled. A memorial service and celebration of Ben's life will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at North Springs Methodist Church, 7770 Roswell Rd, Sandy Springs, GA 30350, 770.396.0844. A reception will follow the service in the church Fellowship Hall. Ben requested memorial donations be made to the North Springs United Methodist Church. There will also be a memorial Red Cross Blood Drive to be held this summer. The church will post details.
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