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Phil Willis

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1-2 In Memory

1-3 of

1-4 The Honorable Phillip LaFrance Willis

1-5 WHEREAS, Former Representative Phillip LaFrance Willis

1-6 passed away on January 27, 1995, at the age of 76, and his death

1-7 has brought a great loss to the people of Texas and to the many

1-8 relatives and friends of this esteemed gentleman; and

1-9 WHEREAS, A native Texan, he was born in Kaufman County, on

1-10 August 2, 1918, and was the youngest son of Alvin Samuel and

1-11 Eliza Phillips Willis; and

1-12 WHEREAS, Upon graduation from the University of North Texas,

1-13 this patriotic gentleman entered the United States Army Air Corps

1-14 Flying Cadet Training School in October, 1940, was commissioned in

1-15 August, 1941, as a 2nd Lieutenant, and was assigned to the 86th

1-16 Observation Squadron, Bellows Field, Hawaii; and

1-17 WHEREAS, Mr. Willis was to have married his sweetheart,

1-18 Marilyn Stubblefield, in Hawaii, Christmas, 1941, but on

1-19 December 7th, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, including the

1-20 air bases, prompting him to leap into quick defense of his base;

1-21 and

1-22 WHEREAS, This heroic pilot flew one of the two 86th

1-23 Observation Squadron planes that became airborne that day; however,

2-1 his plane was destroyed during the second attack; and

2-2 WHEREAS, He was assigned as ranking officer to Beach Patrol,

2-3 and on daybreak, December 8, 1941, Mr. Willis captured the surviving

2-4 member of a two-man Japanese suicide submarine caught on a reef,

2-5 World War II's first prisoner of war; and

2-6 WHEREAS, Mr. Willis immediately volunteered and became a

2-7 four-engine B-17 Bomber pilot and in June, 1942, during the

2-8 Battle of Midway, he was credited with sinking one of Japan's

2-9 largest troop transports, receiving the Silver Star for gallantry

2-10 in action; and

2-11 WHEREAS, Throughout his military service, Mr. Willis went

2-12 on to receive a plethora of medals and decorations including the

2-13 Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster,

2-14 the Presidential Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster, the

2-15 World War II Victory Medal, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

2-16 with Bronze Star, the Air Force Combat Readiness Medal, the Joint

2-17 Service Achievement Medal, and the Pearl Harbor Commemorative

2-18 Medal, along with eight theater and service medals; and

2-19 WHEREAS, Returning to the United States, he married Marilyn

2-20 on August 30, 1943, and the couple was blessed with two beautiful

2-21 daughters, Linda Willis Pipes and Rosemary Willis Roach; and

2-22 WHEREAS, In 1946, he retired as a Major at the age of 28 as

2-23 a result of combat disabilities, and he was duly elected, along

2-24 with his brother, our esteemed colleague, the Honorable Doyle Willis,

2-25 to the Texas Legislature, where both brothers shared the distinction

3-1 of being the only siblings to have served two consecutive terms

3-2 together in the Texas House of Representatives; and

3-3 WHEREAS, As a member of the House, Mr. Willis served with

3-4 honor and distinction, chairing the Committee on Constitutional

3-5 Amendments and sponsoring several important pieces of legislation;

3-6 and

3-7 WHEREAS, Upon his retirement from legislative service,

3-8 Mr. Willis settled his family in San Antonio and became President

3-9 and Chief Executive Officer of Phil Willis, Co., a real estate

3-10 brokerage company, and he was also a builder and developer; and

3-11 WHEREAS, Maintaining his strong sense of community spirit,

3-12 Mr. Willis was also involved as a member of the City of San Antonio

3-13 Zoning and Planning Commission and the San Antonio Board of

3-14 Realtors; and

3-15 WHEREAS, The 1960s saw the Willis family move to Dallas,

3-16 where Mr. Willis established himself as a real estate broker,

3-17 specializing in farm and ranch land, and he served on the Dallas

3-18 Board of Realtors and the Texas Association of Realtors; and

3-19 WHEREAS, Mr. Willis was also a civic leader, with

3-20 memberships in the Masonic Lodge, the Mounted Sons of the Desert,

3-21 the Sons of the Republic of Texas, the Sons of Confederate War

3-22 Veterans, the Texas Democratic Party (where he served as precinct

3-23 election judge), and numerous veterans organizations; and

3-24 WHEREAS, Throughout his exceptional life,

3-25 Phillip LaFrance Willis earned the respect and admiration of all

4-1 who were privileged to know him; he was a man of great character,

4-2 determination, and courage, and his memory will surely live on for

4-3 many years to come through the lasting legacy of achievement he

4-4 leaves behind; he was a man of whom Former Speaker Sam Rayburn

4-5 could say, was "a myth of a man--he didn't myth much"; now,

4-6 therefore, be it

4-7 RESOLVED, That the Senate of the State of Texas,

4-8 74th Legislature, hereby pay tribute to the life and service of

4-9 the Honorable Phillip LaFrance Willis and extend sincere condolences

4-10 to the members of his family: his wife of 51 years, Marilyn Willis;

4-11 his daughters, Linda Willis Pipes and Rosemary Willis Roach; and his

4-12 brother and our esteemed colleague, the Honorable Doyle Willis; and,

4-13 be it further

4-14 RESOLVED, That an official copy of this Resolution be

4-15 prepared for the members of his family as an expression of deepest

4-16 sympathy from the Texas Senate, and that when the Senate adjourns

4-17 this day, it do so in memory of a former esteemed colleague,

4-18 Phillip LaFrance Willis.

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