Sunday, March 27, 2011

Eugene Willis - Sunday's Obituary

I had tried finding a date of death or obituary for my great-grandfather Eugene Willis with no luck. Finally, I located this note from October 8, 1951 in the Chester (Pennsylvania) Times that said he had been admitted to the hospital with abrasions of the elbow and knee. I also located several memorial notes in his memory signed from his children each year on October 8. However, I still couldn't locate an obituary. So, did he die from the injuries described here?

I went page by page in the October 1951 editions of the Chester Times to see if I could find anything and finally found the obituary on October 12 which said he died on October 8, but didn't give a reason. My mother was able to fill in some details and said that he had a bad fall down the stairs of the duplex that he lived in and also injured his head. He didn't recover from the head injury.

From Chester Times, October 12, 1951:

Eugene S. Willis
Funeral Held Thursday
  Rev. H. N. Reeves jr.; pastor of the Linwood Methodist Church, conducted funeral services Thursday for Eugene S. Willis, of 1 Naaman's Creek road, Ogden, who died Monday. Mr. Willis was buried in Hiram Memorial Gardens.
  Pallbearers for Mr. Willis were his four sons-in-law, Royce Councill, of Ogden; Jacob Rosenberger, of Soudertown; Paul Dutt, of West Chester, and Frank Bass, of Dover, Del. and two nephews, Edward Willis jr. of Boothwyn, and Russell Rosenberger, of Souderton.
  He is survived by four daughters, Mrs. Frank Bass, Dover, Del.; Mrs. Royce Councill, Ogden; Mrs. Jacob Rosenberger, Souderton; Mrs. Paul Dutt, West Chester; three sons, Edward and James Willis, Chester, and William Willis, Ogden; 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

This is one of the memorial notices that was published on October 8, starting in 1952.

This was the final memorial notice that I found, published on October 8, 1963 which was very sad.

The four daughters were Edna Councill, Pauline Rosenberger, Oleda Bass, and Edith Dutt. Eugene was also survived by his ex-wife Pearl who had remarried. I had hoped the obituary might solve some mysteries like what his middle initial stood for, his exact date of birth, and confirmation of who his parents were, but the date of death should help in tracking down some other records. Also, a bit of a mystery, I could find no record of Hiram Memorial Gardens, but there is now an Edgewood cemetery in the location where his ex-wife Pearl is buried. Her obituary also said Hiram Memorial Gardens, so it must have changed names at some point.

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