Our Family Legacy
Your Father, William Wesley Willis was born in Toqueville, Utah 21 Nov 1859. He married Dicy Ray Perkins in Snowflake Arizona. They then moved to Cannonville Utah where he was bishop for several years then moved to Lovell Wyoming, where he was the first mayor and served as bishop again.
Your Father lost his first wife leaving him three daughters and a son. He later married Elizabeth M. Clark Liethead in 1912, and the following year on May 2, 1913 you, Frances Willis, were born. Your first years were spent in Lovell Wyoming, but you had little recollection of you half brothers or sisters as they were much older.
Do you remember some of your pleasant childhood memories spent at the home of your sister Jennie? Each summer you traved to Mandesson and spent happy days playing with Jennie's children which were about your own age. Remember the one room schoolhouse about a mile from their ranch. and the creek that ran by the house and the swinging bridge across the creek? Then each winter one of Jennies children would live with you and go to school.
Frances, you spent many happy hours on the knee of your father. One cold winter nights he would tell you pioneer stories, and was truly a good father to you. In the summer, like many of us used to do, you spent many hours in the tomato patch eating fresh tomatoes or gathering peas and eating them in the shade of the cotton wood trees.
Among your childhood memories do you remember a talking doll brought to you from Chicago by your brother Andrew? He would like to express his love to you in this letter as he couldn't be with you today.
Then a sad part comes to your life when your father became ill. Your heat sank one day as you rushed home from school to find the bed empty where you had left your father that morning, but they had only moved him to Billings Montana to a hospital. You and your mother traveled by train to Billings Montana to be near your father while he under went sergery. This was your first trip to the city and one of your biest thrills were the dime stores.
Soon your family returned home tho your father never regained complete health. You were called out of school to come home one day as your father, who was worse, was calling for you. You went to his side where he held you to him and told you he didn't have long to live and wanted you to grow up to be the kind of a a daughter he had always taught you to be. Next day December 3rd, your father passed away leaving an emptyness in your life and heart.
Your brothers, Carl, Ray and Lee insisted you and your mother move to Long Beach to be near them. Your mother sold all your house hold belongings and moved to Long Beach. Your mother was now in very poor health, but you arrived in Long Beach on New Years day 1927. Can you imagine Frances as a very frighted child, leaving all her old friends and having to enroll in a large strange school, knowing no one was an over whelming experience. But as every where you go it wasn't long until you had made many friends in the neighborhood and at church.
A year past, and then one night at a church Valentine dance you met a fellow that had come to Long Beach about a year before from Colonia Jorez Mexico. But as your mother was your constant companion she had accompanied you to the dance and nothing further than meeting him happened. But a week later she chaperoned you some girl friends to a public dance and here you met this fellow again. He became quite brave and asked to take you home, so with mothers consent, you took her to the street car and then walked blocks trying to find his car. He was a good Latter Day Saint boy and your mother liked him. (Gus Enters)
You went together for about a year and then one night you received a beautiful diamond ring and only three months latter on May 25, 1929 you and Gus received your mother's consent and you married at Bishop Nelson's home in Long Beach, with your mother and Gus brother as witnesses. Then immediately after the ceremony you left for Mesa, Arizona to be married for eternity in the Mesa Temple. You traveled in your old model T ford, the trip taking two days. On May 29th you were married in the temple. Your cousin Irene Willis assisted you and then the Willis family held a lovely lawn party and reception for you in Chandler Arizona.
You then went on to Sanford Arizona, to meet your mother-in-law who turned out to be a very lovely precious person. She now lives in Mesa Arizona and is __ years young. You also met Gus' brother and three sisters. After your honeymoon you returned to California and set up house keeping in Wilmington. Gus worked for Union Oil Co. You lived here about a year until your mothers health demanded your return to Long Beach to care for her. While living at your mothers you found you were to be blessed with a baby. You were very ill, in and out of the hospital until sheer determination and the Lord's blessings you were able to stay home and care for your mother who was bed ridden and still carry your baby. Your mother passed away on Christmas day 1930. This was a very sad day for you, lossing your mother and pal.
The next few years were to be hard times for you, Frances, as this was the beginning of the depression years, and Gus, along with hundereds of other men, had lost his job. The only job he could find was out on the desert where there were no accomidations for women. You were wondering what to do when one of your closest friends, Alber Evans came and ask you to move in with his wife, Gladys, whe was also expecting a baby. This you did and Gus and Albert were off to the desert. After a month Gus became sick and came home. You got an apartment and on April 22, 1931 you son Walter Leroy was born. Times were hard and money scarce, but you rounded up $50.00 and Gus bought an old truck deciding to make a job for himself in the ice business. In the fall you decided to pack your belongings in the truck and go to old Mexico. You got as far as Arizona, where Gus got a job on a vegetable farm. You stayed there for the winter but returned to Long Beach for the summer ice business.
When you arrived in Long Beach you found many people living in there back yards and home in rubble do to the earth quake. you slept in the ice truck for a number of nights but finally rented an apartment. The depression was very bad the next year. The Lord must have watched over you tho, down to your last dime. Your Uncle Free wrote and said he would give Gus a job on the ranch in Arizona. So back into the truck went your belongings and you were off to Arizona again. You were here a year returning then to Long Beach, and the ice business and $24.00 a week. With encouregement from Gladys and Albert Evans you bought your first home in Long Beach. Just prior to moving to your new home you met Bernice Hewett and became cherrished friends. She regrets not being here, but as you know she is working and could't get off. Tho Bernice can't be here we do have some of your friends and neighbors. Se if you can recognize these voices (enter - Dorothy Smith, Ruth Walker, Jean Stokes, Elaine Robins, Margarett Spinny, and Ruth Essons.)
Shortly after buying your home you went in a fish cannery, also being Primary Presidnet of Long Beach 2nd Ward. You weren't blessed with anymore children at this time, but had young people living in your home most of the time to help them out. In 1945 however you had another glorious thing come into your life when you were blessed with a baby girl. I think you will know this voice as you have heard it for the last 10 or 11 years. (Enter Marilyn)
Later your son Leroy was called to the Northern States mission and you were very proud and happy. At his time a very dear girl, Shirlee Taylor, came to live with you and spent her senior year. You loved her as your own daughter and she in turn tells what a mother, sister and pal you became to her. She is now the victim of polio, but sends and this note. (read letter from Shirlee)
Six weeks after your son, Leroy returned form his mission he was called to the sevice. Shortly after this, he chose his mate and he and Carol were married in the Mesa Temple. They now live in Provo Utah where Leroy is Attending BYU. They send their love in these letters. (read letters form Leroy and Carol.)
After Leroy left for the Army you moved to hawthorne leaving your home, friends, and neighbors. As always tho, you made many friends right away and became active in the Lawndale Ward. When the ward was devided you were sustained as Relief Society President and what a wise choice the bishop made. Tho you still say "over Home" when you speak of Long Beach, and they way we have just borrowed you for a while we want you to know we appreciate all you have done for our ward and that we all love you.
Now our "Ace in the hole" Frances is this letter and tribute received from a very dear relative of yours. Gus' sister Cleah whom many of us know as she has spent some time with you. (read letter from Cleah and present gift.)
Jacob Lake, Arizonia
How I would love to be behind those curtains today to walk out and surprice you! Had it been possible I would have flown down th be there.
Tears come to my eyes when I read Alice letter, because I know how whole heartedly you have worked all year to make the day perfect in evey way for everyone else. So even tho I am not there, my thoughts and spirit are with you. I truly hope it was a complete surprise, but knowing you the girls would have to be pretty clever to do that. But I hope this your day is also perfect in every way.
All My Love,
Yes, Frances this is your very full life of service and love to others up to now and we know it will continue for manry many years, as you wouldn't be happy without doing things for others. May you have health and happiness always.
Here is a tribute to a wonderful
gal, who is more like a sister, then sister-in-law,
She is a real Pal.
We all love her and appriciate the way she has sorta blended her life with ours. Her home is always open to any one of us. Mom doesn't have a daughter who had been more thoughfull and sweet to her than Frances.
Now here is a few lines about some of our good times together.
Frances and I upon my arrival started on a diet,
For severl day we were martyre to the cause.
Both of us felt full of rin and vigor,
In Long Beach, California at a Valentine's Dance
Gus Whipple and Frances Willis met in that way
In the Mesa Arizona temple their marriage was sealed
May you love and devotion always remain
To the descendants of Gus and Frances so dear
Until you become the best you can be
By Lallian Leithead
feel free to contact
me with any questions or comments.