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Ronnie Jack Willis, Sr., 73 of Springfield, died on Friday, November 17, 2023, at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
Ronnie was born on July 12, 1950, in Lubbock, Texas, to the late John Willis and Ruby (Pike) Willis.
He moved with his family to Springfield in 1952, and graduated from Parkview High School in
Ronnie lived a life of service to others. From serving hungry people as a fry cook at Crank’s lunch counter, to serving his fellow workers as a shop steward for the United Rubber Workers Local 662 during his time at Dayco, to his work leading and teaching his staff as a restaurant manager, Ronnie lived to serve and help and lead. He was always ready to share a smile, an encouraging word, and a calm, guiding hand.
His career was cut short by a disabling automobile crash in 1987. His service, help and leadership, however, continued in the years that followed. He was there with kind words for his grandchildren; with support for his children as they navigated adulthood; with love for his beloved wife Cindy, his parents, his brothers and sisters, and his large extended family.
Ronnie loved country music, western movies, science fiction, board games, card games, comic books, and cooking a good meal. He loved to sing and play guitar, and he knew all the words to pretty much every Willie Nelson, John Denver, and Kris Kristofferson song.
Ronnie and Cindy were married February 13, 1982, and she was there for him through better and worse every day until November 17, 2023. Ronnie is survived by Cindy and by the love they had for each other. Ronnie is also survived by his children, Ronnie Jack Willis, Jr. (Cate) and Diana Keeling (Jason); four grandchildren, Simon Willis, Esq., Zachary Willis, Amanda Willis, and Kinsey Keeling; brothers, Troyce “Corky” Willis (Lisbet), Lonnie Willis (Wanda), twin brother Connie Mack Willis (Judy); and sister, Becky Becker (Kenneth); brothers-in-law, Eugene Ryon (Mary Ann) and Keith Ryon; sisters-in-law, Pamela Hebron (Walter) and Jo Ann Willis; first wife, Stephanie Zeller, the mother of his children; 13 nieces and nephews; and a host of friends.
Ronnie was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Johnny Lee, Thomas and John, and sister Tammie; father-in-law Davy Ryon, and mother-in-law Dorothy Ryon.
In lieu of flowers, Ronnie’s family requests that you do as many of the following as possible: Tell somebody who’s doing a good job that they’re doing a good job; reach out to a family member or friend today just to see how they’re doing; teach somebody something; learn something; tell somebody that you love them and that you’re grateful they’re a part of your world. “Doesn’t cost anything to be nice,” Ronnie would say, and he’d be right.
His care has been entrusted to Walnut Lawn Funeral Home, Ltd. DeGraffenreid-Wood Crematory.