James (Jim) Harvey Willis passed away June 16, 2018 in Holladay, Utah. He was born December 2, 1931 in Kanab Utah, the second of four children, to Garn and Ella Willis. Though he would travel far and see much of the world, Kanab was where he built his home and raised his family. At the age of twenty he enlisted in the armed forces and was soon deployed to the Korean peninsula as part of the Korean War. Later in life he was awarded an Ambassador for Peace medal by the South Korean government for his service. Though he entered the military with the hopes of learning how to be a mechanic, Jim found his way into the kitchen where he learned how to cook and discovered a love of food. From his famous biscuits and gravy to his dutch oven potatoes, anyone who knew Jim knew that not only could a good meal be found in his kitchen, but that he would insist that you had something to eat.
Returning to Kanab after his tour, one night Jim was dared by his friends to ask their waitress out on a date. Their waitress, Sharon Reese, was the love of his life and eventually became his constant and eternal companion. Together, the two became parents to 7 children, grandparents to twenty-nine grand children, and great-grandparents to twenty eight great-grand children. The two became an integral part of their community. Sharon spent her life as a nurse at Kane county hospital, helping to heal and deliver a generation of Kanab residents. At the same time, Jim started a career as an electrician with Garkane Power, but eventually retired from there to work for, and set up, Kanab City’s municipal power. Most of his kids remember the phone ringing off the hook any time the power would go out as people were curious as to when the power would be restored and if Jim was there to let them know what was going on and offer reassurance.
Jim and Sharon devoted their life to their family, their community, and their religion. They raised their family in their home on Main Street. A house that Jim built with his own hands. Early on in his marriage, Jim would work construction jobs and take part of his pay as supplies to eventually finish his house.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jim and Sharon served a mission in Winter Quarters Nebraska and spent much of their later years as temple workers at the St. George LDS temple. Jim loved the outdoors and was often found teaching his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to fish on the shores of Pine Lake or cooking for his family, ward members, scout troops, or anyone who he thought needed a bite to eat. Cooking and family were two of his greatest passions. He was a painter, a handy man, an adventurer, and a great raconteur. He is survived by his children and their spouses Michael and Julie Willis, Scott and Gayle Willis, Dena and Mark Corry, Lynne and Jed Hill, JoAnn and Dwayne Gebs, Nancy and Chris Smith, and Joseph Willis and Amanda Killeen and his brother Nyle Willis. He is preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Duane Willis and Nolan Willis, his grandsons James Gebs and Jackson Hill, and his loving wife Sharon.