Willis Leroy Ford passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of January 21, 2019 at Taylor Health Center in Bath at the age of 89.
Willis was born in Corning on September 21, 1929 to Willis L. Ford Sr. and Leda (McIntosh) Ford. He was a 1948 graduate of Manlius Military School, Syracuse. After school, he worked in the parts departments of multiple local Chevrolet dealerships. On June 14, 1952, he married Helene Gehl and together they resided in Painted Post and raised three children. After the flood in 1972, Willis went to work as a tank operator for Corning and retired in 1991. In his retirement, he enjoyed working as a consultant rosarian at Massi’s Gardens and Landscaping, a funeral service associate at Haughey Funeral Home, Inc., and maintained the pride and joy of his yard, 150 rose bushes.
Willis enjoyed serving his community throughout his life, as a baseball coach in the early 60’s with the Painted Post Little League, rosarian of the Senior Center Garden from the 1960’s to 1990’s, President of the Rose Society of the Southern Tier for two 6-year terms beginning in the 80’s, commissioner in the Forest View Fire District from 1980 to 1997 and continued to be a member after the rededication in 1997 and as a member of the Knights of Columbus from 1991 until his death.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters, Eleanor Gulliver and Cynthia Nichols.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Helene; his children John “Fuzzy” (wife, Stacie) of Addison, Margaret “Peggy” Hopkins (husband, Stephen) of Jefferson, MD and Peter (Teresa Knapp) of Painted Post; grandchildren Daniel (wife, Audra) of Las Vegas, NV, Kristina Hopkins of Owings Mills, MD, Matthew Hopkins (wife, Julie) of Ellicott City, MD, Logan and Ryker of Addison and great-grandsons Owen and Charles Hopkins of Ellicott City, MD, as well as several nieces, nephews, cousins and members of his extended family.
Calling hours will be held on Friday, January 25th, from 2 - 5 PM at Haughey Funeral Home, Inc., 216 East First Street in Corning. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Joseph the Carpenter Church in Campbell on Saturday January 26th at 10:00 AM. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Corning.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to American Cancer Society, PO Box 22718, Oklahoma City, Ok 73123 -1718. Condolences for the family may be offered online at www.haugheyfuneralhome.com.
The family would like to thank all the caregivers from Taylor Health Center, Sayre Health Care Center, CareFirst Hospice, Guthrie and Arnot Ogden Health Care for their compassion and skilled assistance over the past year and Taylor Health Center and CareFirst Hospice for making Willis’s final days comfortable and peaceful.