Jean Willis, 83, longtime resident of Bakersville, NC, died on January 11, 2019, in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, at the age of 83 after a period of declining health.

Jean is survived by her daughter, Vicky Ayers, and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Chris Ayers of Charlotte; grandsons, Will Ayers of Charlotte; Malachi Willis and his wife, Jamie Willis, currently stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas; granddaughter, Nikki Willis and her husband, Steven Thomas of Bakersville; great-grandchildren, Oliver and Mia Willis of Bakersville; sister-in-laws, Kate Murdock of Hendersonville, NC, Sena Mae Gouge of Bakersville, and Margaret Wilson of Bakersville, and her nieces and nephews who loved her dearly also survive her.

Her sons, Chris and Michael, and her loving husband, James, preceded Jean in death. Also, preceding her in death was her twin sister, Jo Ann Silver; sister, Martha Gouge, and brothers, Edward, Bruce and Bobby Holder.

Jean was born on January 28, 1936 in Spruce Pine. Her family later moved to Ohio where she attended Mckinnley Senior High in Canton, Ohio. Once she was married she returned to NC where she taught home economics for the Agriculture Extension Agency for several years. She also worked at Welborn’s Men’s Store in Spruce Pine, Henredon Furniture in Spruce Pine, and in the home. She devoted her life to her family and to her church.

A member of Bear Creek Baptist Church in Bakersville, she loved her church family. She oversaw the children’s nursery for 40 years. She was a gracious host to all the children who came and worked to make them feel loved, welcome and accepted as a child of God. She was also a dedicated member of her Sunday School class and a leader of the Women’s Missionary Union. She and her husband delivered Meals on Wheels for 10 years. Together, they enjoyed visiting the elderly and shut-ins, helping others, and traveling throughout the United States with church members, family and friends. Jean loved gardening, canning, cooking, sewing, and re-upholstering/refinishing furniture.

The family will receive friends on Sunday, January 19, at 2 p.m. at Bear Creek Baptist Church, in Bakersville, NC, followed by a funeral service, then a graveside service. The Rev. Dr. Andy Willis, Jean’s nephew, will officiate along with the Rev. Bruce Canon. Music for the service will be provided by Jean’s niece, Rhonda Gouge, and a special friend, Peggy Howell. Interment will be in the Bear Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Hospice and Palliative Care of the Blue Ridge, Inc., 236 Hospital Drive, Spruce Pine, NC 28777.

The family would like to thank Mitchell House, Hospice and Palliative Care of the Blue Ridge, Bear Creek Baptist Church, and Webb Funeral Home for their care.

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