On Sunday, July 25, 2021, John James “J.J.” Willis passed away at age 79, in Norfolk, Virginia. J.J. was born in New York City on September 18, 1941, to the late James and Natalie (Lovejoy) Willis. After graduating from high school, he joined the Naval Reserves in November of 1959 and was active duty until 1963, during which time he was present for the Cuban Crisis. Upon release from active duty, J.J. returned to his old job and quickly realized there was no future for him there, so he reenlisted in the Navy’s ET B School. J.J. proudly served in the U. S. Navy and retired as a Senior Chief Electronics Technician in July of 1980.
While stationed on the USS Trenton, J.J. met, fell in love with, and married his wife, Elizabeth Dodson and they enjoyed 43 years of marriage. Elizabeth passed away in May of 2010. They had two wonderful children of whom they were very proud, Sherry Lee Willis-Littlepage and Dennis James Willis. Following retirement from the Navy, J.J. worked for 17 years for Central Radio Company in Norfolk, followed by employment as a Marine Service Engineer for MacKay Communications, Inc. While working for these two companies, J.J. travelled extensively all over the world, specializing in inspections and repairs of satellite communications for hydrographic research vessels.
J.J. was a life member of the Fleet Reserve Association and held various offices for Branch 60 and the East Coast Region, was a member of the American Legion where he held the position of Chaplain at the Norfolk Post 327, and was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also volunteered at the Retired Affairs Office at JEB Little Creek/Fort Story and served on the Norfolk Mayor’s Commission on Veterans Affairs.
He was a man of few words, but full of wisdom and valuable advice, and when J.J. spoke, you had best listen. He had a quick wit and could make you laugh. He was very protective of those he loved, and always looked out for his family. There are so many special moments, and the family will miss him dearly.
In addition to his parents, J.J. was predeceased by his brothers: Russell, Richard, and David Willis. Left to cherish his memory are his children Sherry Lee Willis-Littlepage (J. Russell, Jr.) and Dennis James Willis; sister-in-law Eileen Sullivan Willis; and nieces Keri Willis Cohen and Katie Elizabeth Willis.
A memorial service will be held on August 28, 2021 at 2:00 pm at The Fleet Reserve Association Club 60, located at 9601 1st View St. Norfolk, VA 23503.