Richard M. Willis
Richard M. Willis,79, passed away in the comfort of his Anderson, Indiana home on November 5, 2019 after a long illness.
Dick was born on August 3,1940 in Terre Haute, Indiana to Nellie Jane (Smith) Willis and William Russel Willis. He married Victoria L. Barr on July 14, 1973 in New Castle, Indiana. Richard taught English, speech and theatre for New Castle Community Schools and the Indiana Academy for Math, Science and the Humanities in Muncie, Indiana. He directed over 200 high school plays. Retiring in 2018, Willis dedicated 56 years to public education.
Mr. Willis was educated in Terre Haute, graduating from Glenn High School and later Indiana State University, where he received his B.A. and an M.A. in speech and theatre education with a minor in English. In addition to working with student actors, Mr. Willis directed, designed, acted, and wrote plays for Muncie and New Castle civic theaters, Raintree County Opera House Guild, Wagon Wheel Playhouse and Indiana State Theatre Summer Stock.
He co-founded the Raintree County Opera House Guild in 1972. He was awarded a Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship and visited Japan as a result of an award from the Toyota International Teacher Program. He obtained numerous study grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities: traveling to England for seminar work on Shakespeare including the Royal Shakespeare Company; going to Canada for the Stratford Festival; journeying to Greece to study Ovid's Metamorphoses; and spending time in California studying the works of John Steinbeck.
Mr. Willis wrote, produced and performed in numerous fundraising presentations for worthy causes and served as program director and counselor for physically challenged children at Camp Riley and at Camp John Warvel for children with diabetes.
Willis conducted many high school tours for students as well as adult tours with the Art Association of Henry County, Guyer Opera House and through his company, Dick Willis Tours and Trips, Inc. Many central Indiana residents made trips to New York with Dick Willis over the years.
Richard was preceded in death by his mother and father and is survived by his wife of 46 years; a daughter, Emily K. (Willis) Campbell, son-in-law Craig H. Campbell, and grandchildren Jackson Keith and Victoria Rose Campbell of Breckenridge, Colorado; also a sister, Marilyn L. Contreras of El Paso, Texas; nieces Beth Miller of New Castle, Cheryl Peck of El Paso, Texas, Amy Wolfe of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and Elisa Contreras of Anthony, New Mexico; a cousin, Karen Davis of Perryton, Texas; and numerous great nieces and nephews.
The public is invited to a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. December 14, 2019 at the Anderson Fine Arts Center, 32 West 10th Street, Anderson, Indiana, followed by a modern wake. For more details please go to
In lieu of flowers or charitable donations, the family appreciates your kind thoughts and, if possible, your presence at the service and the wake.
Published on November 8, 2019


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