“Truly I say unto you, in as much as you have done it unto the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you have done it unto me.” Matt. 25:40.
Lonnie Willis was welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven on Friday, December 3, 2021, after a brief but courageous battle with cancer. He was truly a “righteous” man—a decent, honest, hard-working soul who lived his life looking out for those who could not do so for themselves. God’s children, young and old, who suffered from mental limitations were truly “special” to him. Lonnie spent most of his 27-year career working to improve their quality of life, serving as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Texas Department of Mental Health and Retardation and the last 15 years before his retirement in 2000 as Superintendent of the Lubbock State School. The most important accomplishment of his long career was his development of an award-winning risk management program and a partnership with Texas Tech and the Tech Health Sciences Center that improved the quality of care and of the medical services provided to the residents at the State School.
Lonnie was born to Dick and Jewel Willis on November 22, 1945, in Lawn, Texas. He grew up in Abilene, Texas where he was a basketball standout at Abilene Cooper High School. He graduated from Texas Tech University and was a life-long Red Raider fan. While serving as Superintendent of the Lubbock State School, Lonnie earned his Master’s degree in Health Care Administration. After his retirement with the state, he continued his career as Director of Scientific Councils for the National Center of the American Heart Association. Most of all, Lonnie loved and walked with God, who he believed had given him a gift of administration and a calling to serve others. That calling also led him to serve as President of Lubbock Meals on Wheels and as a Deacon and Chair of the Leadership Team at Second Baptist Church in Lubbock.
Lonnie and Maggie Bickley (born Margaret McBrayer of Lubbock) were married on June 26, 1999 and made their home in Garland, Texas After retirement they moved to the Silverado on the Brazos community near Weatherford, where they both enjoyed many special friendships and he served as President of the Home Owners Association. Lonnie and Maggie spent many years enjoying their cabin in the mountains near Lake City, Colorado, fly-fishing, jeeping, or just admiring the beauty of God’s handiwork from their front porch.
Lonnie loved his family. He was preceded by his parents and siblings Dickie Haggard, Roy Willis, Fern Carr, W.T. Willis, and Billy Don Willis. He is survived by his sister, Anita Jean Dumis, his daughters, Ila Jenenne and Lorraine Michelle Willis, and his wife Maggie, along with Maggie’s children, Craig (Nicole) Bickley, Kyle Bickley, and Kent (Brianne) Bickley, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He will always be remembered as their beloved “Pops” by his granddaughter, Mya Bacak, and his Bickley grandchildren, Lily, Claire, Julia, Noah, Brooke, Madilynn and Henry.
A funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 9, 2021, at 10:30 AM at Elmwood Funeral Home Chapel, 5750 US HWY 277 S., Abilene, TX 79606. Interment will follow at Elmwood Memorial Park. A visitation will be held prior to the service from 10:00 to 10:30 AM. A memorial service will be held Friday, December 10, 2021 at First Baptist Church Granbury with Charles Johnson officiating.
Memorial gifts may be made to any local Meals on Wheels program or to your favorite charity.