May 28, 1939 – Nov. 18, 2017
Brent Whitney Willis, 78, died at home in Inkom, Idaho, on Nov. 18, 2017. He was born May 28, 1939, in Lovell to Alberta Whitney and Angus (Spec) Maxwell Willis.
Brent was the consummate small-town boy. He loved roaming around town with his friends and dog, Duke, shooting BB guns, rolling boulders down hills, exploring and getting into trouble. Throughout his life, Brent famously recited poems from memory, the result of a teacher’s disciplining. You could tell how serious a
previous offense had been based on the length of the poem. From these early years emerged one of his oft quoted mantras that he lived his life by, “Loyalty is the first principle of a sound character.”
Brent loved sports and the lessons they taught. In high school, he played football and basketball and ran track for the Cowley Jaguars. During his four years on the basketball team, the Jaguars played for the state championship every year, winning three times. Brent pitched and played first base for his American Legion team. Once he had children, he coached for many years for the Lincoln Elementary basketball team in Great Falls, Mont.
Brent graduated from Cowley High School in 1958 and turned down multiple scholarships to play basketball. He attended the University of Wyoming majoring in engineering. Brent married his high school sweetheart, Lynda Stevens, on Sept. 3, 1959, in Cowley, and was later sealed to her in the Idaho Falls Temple.
Brent began his career on a job in Montpelier, Idaho, at the age of 16. He worked hard and was an effective leader during his 54-year construction career. Brent went on to help build hundreds of miles of highway across Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota and Montana, including Yellowstone National Park. Brent worked 42 of those years for United Materials in Great Falls, where he held the positions of general superintendent and company vice president. He was the president of the Montana Ready Mix and Concrete Products Association in 1986. Brent was a tough but fair man to work for. He loved mentoring employees and coaching them on the finer points of leadership.
Brent was an active member of the LDS Church. He served as a bishop, patriarch, and many other capacities in the church. He and Lynda served a mission in Douala, Cameroon Africa. Brent loved this experience, the African people and working with the young full-time missionaries.
Brent was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather. He loved watching his children and grandchildren play sports, and was a huge supporter of anything related to Great Falls High School. For many years, a trophy case was displayed prominently in his family’s living room. Upon inspection, one realized that a trophy doesn’t need to be for anything substantial in order to be exhibited. The only criteria that seemed to matter was whether the trophy is earned by someone who Brent loved.
Some of Brent’s most common phrases included, “Holy Toledo,” “I sure do love ya,” and, “I’m proud of you.” While those same words are apt at this time, they are not sufficient to adequately express his family’s sadness to see him go, nor the profound love and respect felt toward him.
Brent was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Lorum (who died at age 2). He is survived by his sisters Karen (Harold – deceased) Pate, Maxine (Ed) Weber and Annette De Lattre; his wife of 58 years; and their seven children, Sann (Todd – deceased) Huish of Orem, Utah, Kurt (Sarah) Willis of Taos, N.M., Paige (Randall) Armstrong of Inkom, Idaho, Matthew (Toni) Willis of Great Falls, Whitney (Paul) Wissenbach of Boise, Idaho, Amy (Steve) Kunka of Emmett, Idaho, and Jessica (Jeff) Nez of Pocatello, Idaho; 23 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, at the Jackson Creek Ward Chapel, 150 Snow Peak Boulevard, Inkom, Idaho. A viewing will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. prior to the service. Graveside services and interment will take place at the Cowley Wyoming Cemetery at 11 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2017.
Condolences may be expressed at www.colonial-funeralhome.com.
To send one of our special floral arrangements, please call Valley Flowers & Gifts in Lovell, 307-548-7101