John Lee Wills

Graveside Services were scheduled for Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at 2:00 P.M. Willow Cemetery, Willow Oklahoma.

Viewing for J.W. was scheduled for Monday, June 3, 2019 beginning at 1:00 P.M. till 8:00 P.M. with family receiving friends 6:00 P.M. till 8:00 P.M. at People’s Cooperative Funeral Home located at 1400 W. Main, Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. On-line condolences can be made for J.W. by visiting or at P.O. box 224 Erick, Okla.  73645

John Lee Wills, 78, died May 27, 2019, at his home in Erick, Oklahoma with his wife and family by his side.

J.W. to his friends and family (a nickname he assigned to himself), was born on 24 October 1940 in Columbus, Kansans to Burrel and Kathy Wills.  The majority of J.W.’s youth was spent in Joplin, Missouri.  He was the oldest of five children: Johnny-Lee, Susie, Jimmy-Dale, Melvin (Sandy), and Randy.  A teenager in the late 50s, J.W. had a passion for hot rods, and spent a lifetime re-imagining and customizing trucks (Chevrolet of course) and El Caminos’ to fit his fancy.  This passion, led to an extensive collection of Hot Rod magazines that would put the National Archives to shame.

In 1958 J.W. was given the opportunity by a Joplin judge to join the Marine Corps.  He did his training at Camp Pendleton, CA.  He told many of the grandchildren the story of how he endured a week of survival-training by using his wits.  He forged his way through the wilderness to the highway where he hitched a ride to his girlfriend’s house, and then on the last day of training he fought his way back through the wilderness to the rally point.  The highlight of his military career was a boat trip to secure the airport in Beirut, Lebanon in July 1958. 

He returned to Joplin in 1961 where he met and married Joyce Kay Smith in 1962.  Together they had three children Marcy Wills Hickenbotam, Ian Wills, and Kelly Wills Martin.  J.W. was preceded in death by his first wife in 1989 in Wills Point, Texas.

J.W. was a restless soul for many years moving his first family from Missouri to California to Arkansas, back to California,  back to Missouri , to Florida, and then to Texas.  His careers included Machinist, Electrician, small business owner, and many years as a truck driver.  

J.W. met Susin Rogers in Texas, they married in 1991.  Together they raised Amy Rogers Miller and Christopher Rogers.  Susin insisted that they make their permanent residence in the great State of Oklahoma.  She stuck to her guns and they only changed cities once from Willow to Erick.

J.W. had a great wit and sense of humor and as much as he claimed he didn’t like people he would make family members wait on him for an hour or more while he joked and cut-up with various people – normally folks somehow tied to the latest custom truck he was working on or someone at a coffee shop.  He also managed to teach all five of his children and a few grandchildren the proper way to sand wood, metal, and cars – a life-skill that all of us treasure.

J.W. had a best friend for the past 10 years that needs to be mentioned.  His name is Dooley.  Dooley stayed by his side creeping under the covers to keep him warm in the last few months when the thermostat temperature of 85 degrees was not enough.  Dooley was his focus every day for the past few years – at one point earning his own chair at the kitchen table. 

J.W. was a tough-bird.  He survived a broken tailbone twice, a broken nose several times, five teenagers, multiple heart attacks and surgeries, and multiple bouts with cancer, in the end it was a habit he picked up in the 1950s as a cool-teen, that he later quit cold-turkey in his 40s, that lead to COPD and his death.

J.W. is survived by his wife of 28 years, Susin; 3 Brothers, 3 Daughters, 2 Sons, 10 Grandchildren, 11 Great-Grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends.

The Beckham County Record

112 E Main Street 
Sayre, OK 73662
Phone: 580-928-5540
Fax: 580-928-5547
321 N. Main Street
Elk City, OK 73644
Phone: 580-821-2634