When it rains it pours; my best friend passed away yesterday. Suddenly, unexpectedly.
I entered the Navy in 1978. Though we did not know each other then, we crossed paths in late ‘78. We formally met and became close friends in late ‘79 as we both attended the same class in the Navy’s nuclear power school in Florida.
We generally led separate but close lives, with 10 years living in the same house. Though we each had many passions the other didn’t, we had more in common than not.
We argued, laughed, cried, and helped each other through the passing of our parents when it happened. We added more to our extended family that would further define our relationship (I am nodding to you, Ron).
Over these past 40 years:
- We owned property together.
- We were part of each other’s families.
- We worked side-by-side in at many different companies.
- We watched hundreds of movies and shows together.
- We read many of the same books.
- We shared each others passion for cooking.
- We raised my kids together — though he had never married, he treated my kids as if they were his own.
- We shared a lot of the same political views.
- We shared and respected the same kinds of behavior and character in friends: we liked to think we treated them as extended family.
And hundreds of other wonderful and painful memories that I will cherish. The list of things we did not get a chance to do together is short, and the only one I can think of off the top of my head is to go fishing together. Fishing was a passion of his; fishing never really excited me. But damn it, I would have done it if I had a chance.
And we gamed together. One of our most passionate hobbies we shared was board and role-playing games. From chess to D&D and everything in between. And along the way, we added many to our extended family.
Edward E Willis, Born 01/04/1959, passed away 07/01/2019 at his home in Boise, Idaho. Ed was born in Providence, RI to Irving and Mary Jane Willis. He is proceeded in death by his brother Charles D. Willis of Pascoag, RI and his mother, Mary Jane Willis. He is survived by his father, Irving, his brother, Joseph Willis, Nieces Ashley and Amber Willis and Nephew CPL Justin Willis. And “Brothers from his other Mothers,” Dwayne Summerfield and wife Julie, Daniel Siddall and wife Lisa, and Ronald Warren.
Ed was a proud veteran of the US Navy submarine service and served as a reactor operator on several nuclear submarines. His favorite was the USS Dace SSN 607. After the Navy, Ed worked for many years as a robotics and field service engineer at SCP Global Technologies. He was well respected for his technical abilities and outstanding judgment.
He was an integral part of the gaming community in Boise and spent many hours enjoying gaming with his friends. Many volunteer hours were also spent with veterans at the VA hospital counseling others who were facing limb amputations and providing first-hand information of the challenges they would face, and how they would be able to overcome those challenges, thanks to his personal experience. He also enjoyed fishing in his “adopted home state.” Idaho’s trout are now substantially safer.
The best quote I can come up with that sums up all of our relationships is from Richard Bach’s book Illusions: The adventures of a reluctant messiah:
The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof (Bach, 1979, p. 84).
As I mentioned above, his passing was sudden and unexpected. You will be greatly missed by all of us, my friend.
Bach, R. (1979). Illusions: The adventures of a reluctant messiah. New York, NY: Dell Publishing Co., Inc.