Ellen was born in Dustin, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, on Dec. 25, 1925, to James Dillard and Mamie (Fife) King. Ellen attended school in the Dustin area through grade school. She then attended Chilocco Indian Boarding School located in North Central Oklahoma where she graduated from High School in 1944 as Valedictorian. After the death of her mother in 1937, Ellen and her five siblings were lovingly raised by their Grandmother Louisa Low Fife and a host of aunts and uncles.
Ellen worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Tulsa until pursuing her lifelong dream of going to college. She attended Oklahoma A & M where she met William R. “Bill” Willis. They were married on Feb. 23, 1946. Ellen and Bill owned and operated a small manufacturing plant, Willis Manufacturing Company, in Stillwater. In 1964, Bill and Ellen, with their four children, moved to Granite to join J. R. Willis, Bill’s father, in operating Willis-Pellow Brothers Monument Works. Ellen wore many hats throughout her professional life, selling and designing family memorials, acting as office manager for the monument company as well as being the office manager and part owner of numerous cable TV franchises. In 1983, Ellen, Bill and their four children purchased Willis Monument Company from J. R. eventually renaming it Willis Granite Products. Ellen retired in 1996.
Ellen was a devoted and loving wife and mother. Her laughter, sense of humor and smile will be missed by family and friends. One of her many interests was music. She assisted students with scholarships and encouragement in pursuit of their musical endeavors. As a member of the United Methodist Church in Granite, Ellen served on numerous committees. However, her passion was making sure that children had the opportunity to attend church, always extending invitations to all she met and offering transportation. She served the community for 18 years as an election judge. Ellen was also a fervent Oklahoma State Cowboy fan and supporter, Go Pokes!
Some of her greatest memories were made in returning to the church of her youth, Thlewarle Indian Baptist Church as well as attending her Chilocco reunions. Ellen was greatly honored to have been inducted into the Chilocco Hall of Fame in 1996.
She was preceded in death by her parents; a son, James Lance “Spogie” Willis; and three brothers, Tcholote King, Harold King and Bedixie King.
She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Bill Willis; three daughters, Billie Karen Harrison, Linda Kay Morris and husband Mike, Brenda Gay Hickerson and husband John; four grandchildren, April and Jody VanAusdall, Marla and Tony Scarborough, Jason Harrison, Mandy and Stephen Ranney; great-grandchildren, Meagan Bilyeu, Tommy Brown, Ashley Blevins, Alex Scarborough and Tristan Ranney; great-great-grandchildren, Morgan Pilkington, Chloe Bilyeu and Parker Blevins; one sister, Evelyn Brogdon of Ramona; one brother, John David (Kahlon) and Claudine King of Newkirk; one sister-in-law, Nora Jean King of Stillwater; along with many cousins, nieces, nephews other relatives and many friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Granite United Methodist Church, Thlewarle Church in Dustin, or the Granite Educational Enrichment Foundation.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday at the Granite United Methodist Church. Interment will follow at Granite City Cemetery under the direction of Greer Funeral Home of Granite.
The family will greet friends at the Granite United Methodist Church where she will lie in state on Friday from 5 to 6 p.m.
Online tributes may be made to the family at www.GreerFuneral.com