Louise Johnson Willetts, 86, former office assistant at Southport Elementary School

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Our beloved mom, Louise Johnson Willetts, 86, passed away Wednesday, March 22, 2017, after a long, courageous struggle with dementia.

She married our dad, William Elmore Willetts, in 1949 in Conway, S.C., and came back to his birthplace home where they lived and worked together for 62 years. During those years, she worked extremely hard on the farm beside dad as they worked to create a better life for our family.

Many days starting work in the field, preparing three home-cooked meals, and raising the children as dad worked long hours on the farm. Teaching us to work hard and be good neighbors and citizens, while showing respect to all people.

As we grew up, mom held several positions, always striving to better herself and our family. She was a substitute mail carrier for Winnabow Post Office and worked during the holidays at J.C. Penny. Her last two public jobs were in education, where she served as director of Head Start and the office assistant at the Southport Elementary School for over 20 years, where her coworkers cherished her sense of humor and kindness.

When mom retired from the school system, she came home to work in the Farm Supply store that she and dad opened on the farm. The Feed Store they gave our community a convenient source for farmers to buy supplies, but most importantly it was a welcoming spot where neighbors and friends loved to stop in to enjoy a welcoming smile, maybe a little free advice, or a laugh or two with mom and dad. It created a warmth in the community, that was sorely missed, when they were no longer healthy enough to operate it.

Mother gave birth to five children, Kenneth Elmore Willetts, Jerry Dale Willetts, William Walker Willetts, Rebecca Anne Willetts Jackson, and lastly, along came Charles Etheridge Willetts 18 years after her first son was born. We often wonder how many meals she cooked, and how many cloth diapers she changed, how many beds she made, how many homemade biscuits she rolled and baked, how many loads of laundry were done without a dryer, how many sleepless nights with sick children, how many dishes were washed, and how could she do it all and more? It was simple, clearly her unconditional and unlimited love for her family, fueled her determination and drive.

She grew up as a Baptist minister’s daughter and sang most of her childhood life with her sisters and brothers. Her music brought her much joy, as she served as the music director at Mill Creek Baptist Church for many years, where she and dad were members.

As we children married and left home, we added Susan, Debbie, Patrice, Sammie and seven grandchildren who she loved and adored. Victoria, Valerie, Jessica, Patrick, Morgan, Jennifer and Nathan.

She was the sixth child born to Tom and Lula Johnson on Aug. 2, 1930, and had three brothers and four sisters. She leaves behind two sisters, Annie Lou King and Elizabeth Peterson; and one brother, Frank Johnson.

Lastly, one very special lady named Lashandra ‘Lu Lu’ Hill  came into mom’s life after the dementia set in and Universal Health Care became her new home. Our mom felt safe, secure and loved because of the genuine care that Lu Lu gave to her. A sincere thank you to Lu Lu and the entire staff at Universal.

You will always be in our hearts. We loved you to the end, and we’ll love you again when we see you on the other shore.

Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, March 24, at the Willetts Cemetery, beside Mill Creek Baptist Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to SECU Hospice House of Brunswick, 955 Mercy Lane, Bolivia, NC 28422.