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Lance Tillman Willis

07/11/1946 - 08/08/2020

Lance Tillman Willis, 74, passed away peacefully in his home in Mesa, Arizona, on August 8, 2020, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Lance was born July 11, 1946 in Snowflake, Arizona, to Max and Amy Willis. His family lived in Mexico when Lance was 3 and 4 years old, where he learned to speak Spanish very well, a gift he’s used throughout his life. The family eventually moved to Mesa, where he attended Emerson Elementary, West Jr. High (Carson), and Mesa High School.

He began playing the clarinet in third grade and played until junior high, when his interests turned to football, which became a central part of his life. As a senior, he was a standout on Mesa High’s 1963 undefeated, state championship football team. This led to a football scholarship at Brigham Young University where he ultimately received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. He worked his way through school as a waiter at the Sundance Resort, where he had the opportunity to ride motorcycles with Robert Redford on occasion. The university is also where he met his wife of 51 years, Margie Ashton, from Provo, Utah. Lance and Margie eventually moved to Mesa, where they have lived for 48 years and raised their ten children, on Orange Street, the same neighborhood Lance grew up in.

Lance was an extremely active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and served in many ward and stake capacities over the years, including Young Men’s President, Bishop, and Young Men’s Softball Coach, which was the calling he loved the most. He had the opportunity to serve several missions for the Church as a young man in Argentina, and later with his wife, Margie, as a Mission President in Ecuador, as temple missionaries in Chile, and as the president of the missionary training center in Argentina. He cherished each of these experiences as he had the opportunity to associate with hundreds of wonderful missionaries.

He is survived by his wife, Margie Ashton Willis, and their ten children: Jessica (Jared) Seaman, Amie (Kyle) Johnson, David (Stacy) Willis, Melanie (Peter) Driggs, Melissa (Warren) Bodine, Michael Willis, Scott (Kellie) Willis, Steven (Shawnee) Willis, Kayleen (Spencer) Reed, Afton (Tyson) Oliver, their 40 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his siblings Eric (Denise) Willis, Elizabeth (Brad) Barrett, Ronald (Lida) Willis, and Maxine (John) Pew. He was preceded in death by his parents Max and Amy Willis, and sister LeNae.

Lance had an incredible talent of making everyone he met feel loved and important.

A memorial will be held Friday, August 14, 2020, at the Wright House in Mesa, at 6:00pm. The service will be recorded and shared via YouTube the following day.


  • Lance will be greatly missed. We love the Willis family! Every time I saw him he made me feel like I was the most important person and would ask me about our family! May the Lord bless you and your family. May you always know that he is close by! You are in our prayers! We are grateful that Families are Forever and will be able to be with him again. LOVE YOU! Kay Chapman

  • Thyrle & Roberta Stapley

    One of my main Amigos. Lance will be missed. I look forward to the great reunion we will have some day.

  • Geniel and Dickson Huntington

    That is a beautiful obituary, Margie. We wish the miles did not separate us, but please know our hearts are right there with you at this time of sorrow. Margie and Lance, you have been a wonderful example to your beautiful children who will continue to pass on the things you taught them as they grow in strength and spiritual awareness. We will visit with you sometime in October. Aunt Geniel

  • Jack and Melody Stapley

    I knew Lance as a young boy as he would come over to our house and play with my older brother Thyrle. I worked with him at BYU. I hired him to organize and run our HVAC Division at Stapley Wholesale, because of who he was and how much people liked him. Lance was simply The Best there is. Such a fun and positive outlook on everything. Even sitting with him at a football game a year or two ago, he could and would share with me the difficulties of having Alzheimers. Honest Lance, there best there is.

  • Muy agradecido con Pres. Willis, una gran persona, un gran hombre y sus enseñanzas ayudaron en mi vida. Fue mi presidente en Ecuador cuando serví como misionero. Un fuerte abrazo hna. Willis desde Guatemala.

  • Mis condolencias para la familia por la partida del presidente Lance Tillman Willis quien fue llamado a trabajar en la obra de nuestro Padre Celestial al otro lado del velo a ese mundo espiritual donde le necesitan que Nuestro Padre Celestial derrame fortaleza para toda la familia

  • Mercedes Hernández Lainez

    Que triste noticia… Se que era un hombre de Dios de pocas oalabras pero espirituzles. Un excelente lider, un presidente de mision preocupado por sus misioneros, siemre a la ESCUCHA, mis condolencias a sus hijos, hna Willis y familia, no es un adios sino hasta luego… El olan de salvacion es perfecto eso es un consuelo. Y saber que ya descansa de sus sufrimientos. Hasta siempre mi querido présidente Willis

  • Tom and Marilyn Wright

    Lance (Tim) was a best friend growing up. We played clarinet together in the clown band at Emerson and at West Jr High. We coached softball against each other. Recently we enjoyed watching our grandsons play baseball and basketball at Westwood only hoping they were as good as we thought we were. I loved seeing Lance st Westwood b-ball games. I loved that even when the Alzheimer’s took hold he always called me by name, knew who I was and a good visit was shared. A valiant servant of our Father in Heaven. Our love to Margie snd this great family.

  • Pamela Snow-Medina (Margie's Cousin)

    Margie and family. My heart aches for all of you. What a wonderful posterity Lance will be waiting to greet. I don’t know of a better example of a parent or grandparent. May you continue your love for him by remembering all the many good times Lance shared with you. Are love and thoughts will be with you.

  • Linda Willis Brazzeal

    What an example Lance was to all of us. Although years have passed since we cousins got together, he will be missed by all of us but so warmly welcomed by others who have gone before. We are so sorry for your loss, Margie, but what a wonderful legacy Lance has left for his family and all of us. We know you will be together again. Love you all.

  • Siempre estaré agradecido al Presidente Willis, me enseñó lecciones de vida, con su sonrisa hacia que los desafíos fueran algo sencillo de superar, amaba a sus misioneros como a sus propios hijos y cuando nos reprendia los hacia con un amor fraternal. Echaré de menos a este gran ser humano que me mostró lo hermoso que es servir al prójimo. Me enseñó la paciencia, la caridad , la perseverancia .
    Hasta siempre querido amigo.
    Hasta vernos con el Rey.

  • Roman Enrique Salvatierra Melgar

    Mis mas sentidas condolencia a la familia Willis. Nuestro querido Presidente a sido llamando a la presencia de nuestro Creador.
    Los amo muchisimo Pdte. Y Hna. Willis.
    Hasta vernos con el Rey..

  • Randy and Sally Cooper

    We lost the best of the best. He will be so missed by all of us. But he leaves us with wonderful memories and his love of the gospel. We love you Margie and your wonderful family.

  • Pamela Snow-Medina (Margie's Cousin)

    My heart aches for all of you. What a wonderful posterity Lance will be waiting to greet. I don’t know of a better example of a father,grandfather or friend. May you all continue to show your love by remembering all the many wonderful experiences you shared with Lance. Out thoughts and love will be with you.

  • Gregorio López Moscoso

    Toda pérdida de un ser querido es dolorosa, la diferencia es que con cada enseñanza del Presidente y Hna Willis sabemos que las familias son eternas y encontramos alivio en nuestro corazón. Gracias por haberme guiado en la misión y por estar pendientes de cada uno de nosotros. Su legado presidente es eterno. Gracias por su ejemplo. Hasta vernos con el Rey.

  • Sebastian Corro

    President Willis’ love for us will always be a constant pillar in our lives to remind us of what’s important and better in order to find endless blessings and eternal happiness. This is one of the many ways his example will always be engraved in our hearts, and one of the innumerable reasons we feel so blessed to have met him.
    We love and admire President and Sister Willis and their wonderful heritage.

  • Natalie Ashton & Trent Robertson

    Beautiful obituary. So very sad to hear about his passing, but grateful that he was surrounded by those who love him.

  • He will be missed tremendously. I regret not bringing my little family down to Arizona so he could meet them. He was an outstanding mission President who set a wonderful example of faith and fatherhood. Based on the Facebook posts I have no doubt he was an awesome, loving grandfather as well. The impact he had on my life won’t be forgotten. His life legacy is truly admirable and his teachings will live on. Thank you President for your love and caring guidance. Thoughts and prayers to you Margie and the rest of the Willis family and extended family. Families Are Forever! Love, Craig

  • Spencer Cujilema

    Mi querido amigo y presidente Willis
    Debo decir que jamas conoci a un hombre tan fiel y dedicado al evangelio como lo fue el presidente Willis. Servimos juntos en Ecuador. El como mi presidete de Mision y yo como un joven Misionero .solo el hecho de pensarlo me induce a ser mejor cada día. Hasta luego presidente Hasta vernos con el Rey lo amo

  • Christian Torres

    Presidente Willis

    Un líder estupendo, serví bajo su liderazgo desde 2002 – 2004, aprendí a ser un mejor hijo del Padre Celestial gracias al tiempo en la misión

    Somos muchos quiénes agradecemos por haberlo conocido.

    Christian Torres
    Santo Domingo Ecuador

  • Presidente Willis, estoy agradecida con mi Padre Celestial por haberme permitido conocer y tener a alguien tan especial durante el tiempo que serví la misión, aprendí mucho de ud, siempre animandonos y exhortandonos a ser mejores misioneros.
    Es doloroso hacer esta partida física, pero sebcon todo mi corazón que en estos momentos sigue trabajando en la obra, le amo mucho Presidente, gracias por sus enseñanzas, hasta vernos con el Rey

  • J and Judy Draper (cousin)

    Margie, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. What an amazing legacy Lance leaves behind. We were struck by how similar he was to his dad in his service to the Lord. May those memories of service that the two of you shared help sustain you. He will be greatly missed.

  • Realmente fue un privilegio haber servido en la misión bajo el liderazgo del Presidente y Hermana Willis, aún recuerdo las entrevistas que teníamos cada seis semanas, sus consejos, experiencias y sobre todo su testimonio y ejemplo de servicio, fidelidad y obediencia y el amor que tenía por nosotros los misioneros, sus ovejas en ese tiempo. Presidente Willis siempre llamaba y reconocía a cada misionero por su apellido aún cuando no estuviéramos con placa, en la última entrevista que tuve con él le pregunté cómo lo hacía, me comentó que estudiaba los nombres de los misioneros desde que les llegaba sus papeles al ser asignados a su misión, es decir antes de conocerlos en persona y oraba por estos nombres para grabarlos en su corazón. Sabemos que este tiempo de separación temporal con él es triste, lo extrañamos, y por ello oramos mucho por la Hermana Willis y toda su familia para que la mano tierna y amorosa del Salvador pueda aliviar este dolor y fortalecer la fe que tenemos en que nos volveremos a ver.

  • Graciela Alamilla

    Sister Willis my deepest sympathy to your family. Pres. Willis taught me valuable advice that has truly guided me in the course of my life. I always look forward for an interview with him. He made me feel special and i felt his love for the Savior. My love for you and your family…..I will always remember him.

  • Matthew and Clarissa West

    We will never forget Bishop Willis’ loving guidance during our courtship and marriage. His friendly open disposition and grounding smiles will be missed. Our hearts and prayers are with Sister Willis and all their family. It was an honor to know him and be known by him…

  • I remember President Willis and his wife as hardworking and people-loving brothers. It was a pleasure to have learned and shared with you 2 years at the Buenos Aires MTC. You will always be an example for me and my family. I know that we Will be together again.

  • My love and prayers to Margie and family. He was an amazing man it was hard to believe he had Alzheimer’s. I will always remember his kind and gentle ways. Lance will be truly missed

  • El amor y el ejemplo que siempre demostró mi presidente de misión hiso q muchos de sus misioneros sigamos su ejemplo me duele mucho su partida sin embargo me queda la gran lección que mi presidente Willis y su amada esposa dejaron en mi corazón.

  • Carlos E. Agüero

    I served with President Lance T. Willis for 2 years as he was the President of the MTC (CCM) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was the Manager for that MTC and we were delighted to have such a meek and loving man with his wonderful wife, Margie always caring for every missionary and for all of us the staff. We have fond memories of the wonderful times we had with Lance and Margie, along with his lifelong friend, Lynn Bedford and his sweet wife. Till we meet, dear friend…

  • Love Lance so much! So many wonderful memories and experiences with Lance as i was growing up in the 8th ward. He was such a positive influence/role model during my teenage years. So sorry for the loss to the Willis family, but, as my father suffered through this horrible disease i know its a relief for Lance to move on… love you guys! Linn

  • My love and condolences to you Margie and the family. How I have loved Lance “Tim” Willis all my growing up years in Mesa and the 8th Ward along with the entire Max & Amy Willis Family. If I was in Mesa right now I would grab Wilford and come over to your home and sing a duet: Jesus Lover of My Soul, or I Need Thee Every Hour. What a blessing to be associated with all of you. And all my love also to Eric, Elizabeth, Ron and Maxine. God bless you all–Glenn and Elsie are singing with me right now on both sides of the veil. How we all love Tim, Margie, your wonderful family and all the rest of the extended Willis Clan. Vaya con Dios hermano

  • He was my bishop growing up. I loved bishop Willis.
    I’m so sorry. I wish all the best to his family

  • Wilford and Kathleen Andersen

    Lance has always been one of our heroes. He had a gift of loving and lifting everyone, but he was magic with young people. We are better people for having know our friend Lance. We love you Margie and family.

  • Walt and Pam Redd

    Hermano Lance. You will be missed by us. You were my friend,traveling companion, mentor and all around
    person to depend on for comfort and friendship. Our continous search for the perfect lunch spot will be in
    my memory forever. We had a friendship other than construction and air conditioning and that meant so much to me. See you on the other side.

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