Obituary: Jonathan Willis


Jonathan Willis

May 12, 1948 – March 20, 2017

Jonathan Lee Willis was born on June 12, 1948 in Los Angeles, along with his twin sister, Julianne.

He father, Clifford Willis, was an executive at Farmer’s Insurance and his mother, Esther Willis, was a homemaker.  Over Jon’s childhood, the family moved from LA to Merced, California to Aurora, Illinois and then back again to Merced, where Jon graduated from Merced High School.

He attended several colleges pursuing varied interests and ended up obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree from San Francisco State and later a degree in law from Santa Clara University School of Law.  He practiced law in San Francisco, Orange County and most recently in Imperial County.

This is the history of his education and work, but it isn’t an adequate description of Jon Willis, a man who loved life, loved others and loved experiencing the world.  Throughout his life, Jon had many passions – making a pilgrimage to India as a young man, sailing in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, scuba diving in the Cayman Islands, 4-wheel driving through Copper Canyon and exploring Thailand and Mexico.  He completed more than 10 marathons during his years in Orange County, including the LA Marathon (twice!) and San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

He loved all genres of music – from classical to classic rock, bluegrass to the blues.  For a few years, he owned a sailboat and scuba gear shop.  He maintained a lifelong interest in various motor vehicles, purchasing several older Volkswagens with the intent to fix them up.  His tricked out Harley Davidson carried him all over California in recent years.

Being fully engaged was not a choice for Jon, it was simply the way he lived life. He could, and would, strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere.  His gregarious nature served him well both inside and out of the courtroom.  He was proud to be an attorney, working hard to provide enthusiastic and fair service for those he represented.  Jon cared about civic matters and was a proud, life-long Democrat.

He loved being a member of Los Vigilantes and participating in local activities.  He was an active supporter of local youth sports, and a fan of the Oakland Raiders.  He was always ready with a joke and brought energy and verve to all his endeavors.  He was a highly intelligent, funny and caring man who will be remembered by all that knew him.

 He is survived by daughter, Elizabeth Woolf-Willis of Los Angeles, CA and sister, Juli Leonard of Temecula, CA

Memorial service for Jonathan Willis was held Friday, April 7, at Frye Chapel and Mortuary in Brawley at 11:00 a.m.