Couple celebrates 60 years

Published 8:17 pm Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Bible says, “He that findeth a good wife findeth a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” — Proverbs 18:22.

In 1949, a young man by the name of William Willis returned from his tour of duty stationed in Japan to Nansemond County to find his soon-to-be bride, and thus favor with the Lord. To his surprise, he found his life’s mate while attending a dance only a stone’s throw away from his current residence in Suffolk off Godwin Boulevard. After meeting the former Eunice Walker at a dance in which she asked him to buy her a chicken sandwich, the young officer and gentleman walked Ms. Walker home to her parents’ place in Oakland, Nansemond County, at a time when the area did not have street names.

On Jan. 6, 1951, William and Eunice exchanged wedding vows in Baltimore, Md., at William’s sister’s house. Eunice had three children in a prior marriage — Sarah Thomas, Artemas Thomas and Patricia Thomas. They also gave birth to four children — Ronald Willis (deceased), Michael Willis, Tonia Willis, and Brigette (Willis) Townsell.

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The couple has 13 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

William is a retired Norfolk Naval Shipyard worker of 38 years who was highly regarded by his peers for his exceptional skill in sheet metal work, and was requested throughout the world. He received numerous certificates for his system process improvements recommendations to shipbuilding. Mr. Willis had the honor of working on many vessels, including the USS Dwight Eisenhower and USS Theodore Roosevelt. William was a deacon at Greater New Hope Church and was well-known for his handiwork in maintaining the church building.

While William was being shipped around the country working for Norfolk Naval Shipyard on special projects, Eunice took on the dual roles as mother/financier and humble servant at Holiness Church under Pastor Whitaker. Later she joined Greater New Hope COGIC under the pastorate of H.M. Harrell, where she was a faithful member and served in various capacities as Sunday School teacher, Finance Committee, Church Mother and organist for 40 years.

Both William and Eunice are lifelong residents of Suffolk and give God the praise for living into their 80s.

When Mrs. Willis was asked how she and her husband made it 60 years married, she said, “The Lord and determination that she was going to make it.”