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LIFE WAS DOMINATED BY HIS LIKES, NOT DISLIKES

Bob Willis loved:

Betty, the graceful, witty, straight-talking woman he married in 1956.

His grown children, Bob Willis Jr. and Betsy Jordan. His grandkids. His 31 cousins. His nieces, nephews. Even his in-laws.

Practicing law, which he did prominently for 56 years in St. Petersburg.

The Lakewood home he built as a newlywed.

Hard work.

Pies.

Sharing funny stories, like the one about the dog bite lawsuit he took on - the dog was huge and destroyed the judge's chamber. He lost the case.

Vacations in New England, North Carolina, Europe and his family's fishing shack in Crystal River.

Getting absorbed in mystery and history novels.

Hot showers in the morning.

Calling people "ma'am" or "sir" even when it sounded outdated.

Homemade quilts.

Sausage, barbecue and outdoor grilling.

Staying up late to watch movies with his wife.

Attending his son's baseball games, even when they were painful to watch.

Going with the flow, even when his daughter brought home injured birds and raised chickens in the back yard.

Fishing.

Football.

Working for things he believed in - such as helping to create regulations after the Supreme Court made it legal for lawyers to advertise their services.

Trying to make use of his big hands, even though he wasn't very handy.

Going barefoot, even though doctors told him not to.

His reclining chair with the vibrating back massager.

Talking to his daughter late at night on the phone.

His nonstick frying pan.

Tabasco sauce. Real butter, sugar and salt.

Picking, growing and eating fresh vegetables.

Kiwis, raspberries and blueberries.

Dispensing words of wisdom.

Justice and old-fashioned legal work. Helping underdogs.

Not always billing by the hour.

A firm bed.

Good, bright lighting.

Modern technology.

Quality theater and music.

Roses.

Holding hands with his wife.

Kissing, hugging and saying, "I love you."

His wedding ring, which he tried to slip back on his finger in the hospital, even though his oxygen monitor was in the way.

His life, until heart problems finally took their toll. He died Jan. 24. He was 79.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8857.

Biography

Bob Willis

Born: Jan. 2, 1929.

Died: Jan. 24, 2008.

Survivors: wife, Betty Willis; children, Betsy Jordan and Bob Willis Jr.; grandchildren, Jackson and Walker Willis, Elizabeth, and Emmalee Jordan; daughter-in-law, Sally Stovall Willis; son-in-law, Scott Jordan; 31 cousins; many nieces and nephews.

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