Edith Margaret Willis

Published 10:37 am Thursday, April 4, 2024

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Dec. 12, 1925-April 1, 2024


Edith (Tootie) was born in Dowagiac to Matilda and Henry Leitke.  She was the youngest of four (4) children.  Her sister, Gunda, passed away as a baby. Edith was of German descent and was raised speaking both German and English languages.

On Sept. 28, 1946, she married the love of her life. Robert H. Willis.

In her younger years, she worked as a nurse’s aide at Lee Memorial Hospital – which later, in her retirement years she returned as a volunteer in the gift shop. Throughout her adult life, she worked at Ray’s Drive-In, CVS and Harding’s Friendly Market. Finding time always to raise their three (3) children and to plant, tend and market their prize tomatoes.

She is survived by her daughter, Karen Beckwith (Bob Bella); and sons Bruce (Peggy Willis) and Bob (Bethany Willis).

She was blessed with eleven (11) grandchildren: Karin Napier (Jason Napier); Cory Beckwith; Steven Beckwith (Tammy Beckwith); Douglas Beckwith (Dr. Samantha Beckwith); Rebecca Visser (Andrew Visser); Rachel Fountain (John Fountain); Bruce Willis (Brittany Willis); Ashley Johnson (Ryan Johnson); Meredith Willis; Drew Willis (Kaprial Willis).

Every time her grandchildren gave her another grandchild, she was elated. The Lord blessed her with eighteen (18) great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild expected sometime in October 2024.

Preceding Tootie in death were: Parents, Henry and Matilda Leitke; Siblings, brother Rein Leitke and sister Adalia “Day” Weaver; Husband, Robert Willis Sr; and Grandsons, Erick Kritner and Mark Willis

She was baptized, confirmed, married and now her funeral service will have all transpired in St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.  St. John’s, which was on Mill Street, had two (2) services, one in German and the other in English.  Years later, a new church and parsonage was built on McCleary Street – which her husband and brother helped build.

She had a memory that was unbelievable. We always laughed thinking that she should be a Dowagiac historian.  It is unfortunate that she never wrote her memories/stories down.

She and her mother always had a big garden.  She was an above-average bowler on the women’s bowling league at Silver Creek Lanes for many years.  Square dancing was a favorite of hers – often a Dosey doe (or two) took place in their living room.  Card playing (Pitch) and board games were regular fun-filled entertainment events also.

Tootie was an avid University of Michigan fan – attending many football and bowl games (the last being Michigan over Notre Dame in 2019 – Go Blue!).

She was the last of the 1943 Dowagiac Union High School graduating class.  Go Chieftains!

Services will begin Sunday, April 7, 2024, at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at 2 p.m.  Visitation will begin at 1 p.m.  A private burial service will take place at Riverside Cemetery at another time. Arrangements were entrusted to Clark Chapel – Starks Family Funeral Homes, Dowagiac. Please visit Tootie’s personalized webpage to share a memory or leave a condolence to her family at www.clarkch.com.

In lieu of flowers the family has asked for memorial contributions be made to Edith’s great-granddaughter Gracie’s MiAble special needs fund. Edith prayed for Gracie’s health and strength every day.  We know she is watching over Grace from Heaven now.  Contributions help with medical costs not covered by insurance and are tax-deductible.

Donations can be made as follows:

Checks can be made payable and mailed to Ugift-MiABLE at P.O. Box 219724, Kansas City, MO 64121.  Please add Grace E. Visser in the memo field.

Online:  www.Ugiftable.com, please include  Gracie’s code:L79-N38

Bless you Mom!  Thank you for all of your help without complaint.  You gave so much to all of us while living a humble/modest life.  Our love for you and each other is unquestionable.  Your children.