Willis, Emil F.

Willis Jr., Emil F.

Emil F. Willis Jr. passed away on January 19, 2024 after a brief illness. He was 88 years old. He is survived by his brother Robert, his children, Jeffrey (Roseline), James, Kerry and Eric, and five grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Emil was born to Emil Willis Sr. and Henrietta (Eberling) in Spring Valley, NY. He adored his parents, and his younger brother Bob, and he lived to play sports. By the time he was 12, he knew he wanted to be a coach when he grew up. He lettered in football, baseball and basketball at Spring Valley High School, and attended Springfield College. In the middle of college, he joined the army, serving for two years. When Emil returned to Springfield, he played baseball and basketball, and met his beautiful wife, Audrey. They raised four children together until her passing in 1993. He then had a late-life marriage to Arlene O'Hanlon.

After Springfield, Emil got a master's degree from Seton Hall University. He taught and coached in New Hampshire, and at Spring Valley and Ramapo High Schools, and finally at Rockland Community College, leading multiple teams to championships. In addition to coaching and teaching, Emil joyfully served the RCC community, developing and directing lasting programs that served the whole county. He started the RCC Sports Academy summer camp which served more than 10,000 children over its 40 years, and he created the Family Recreation Program, which opened the campus athletic facilities to all, seven days a week. There were countless other programs that he launched to benefit the community during his 49 year tenure at the college.

More importantly, Emil was a kind and generous man. He was a beloved coach, teacher, colleague, mentor and friend. He was a wonderful father. His later years were spent in peace and contentment with his family. To them, he was an anchor: the beautiful, steadfast, faithful and loving presence that sustained them. Their loss is immeasurable. Emil's life was long and fruitful, and he blessed everyone that knew him. May he have heard, at last, those longed-for words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

A Celebration of Life service will be held on March 2, 2024 at 10 AM, at All Souls Community Church, 81 Washington Ave. Suffern, NY.

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