12/15/1932 - 7/31/2022
Omaha - A kind and devoted husband, father, and public servant, Fred employed his talents, love, and energy in support of his family and vision to improve the lives of others, accomplishing all with joy, modesty, and grace.
Born in New Orleans on December 15, 1932, Fred was the fifth of eight children born to Hillious Willis and Louvenia “Mother” Blackamore Willis. After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1951, Fred enlisted in the U.S. Airforce, serving as an airplane Radio Operator, where first he ensured that ground radar systems could track airplanes and later being responsible for transporting supplies and personnel. Earning the rank of Airman First Class, Fred honorably discharged from the service in June 1955. From there, he went on to attend Dillard University where he studied Sociology, met Rhoma Moore – his wife of 62 years, and pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Upon graduation, Fred moved his new family to St. Louis. Here he was employed as a case-worker at the Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project and began his life of service in earnest as he worked to organize tenants at the housing project, umpired Little League baseball, and attended Washington University, earning his Masters’ Degree in Social Work, with a concentration in Community Development.
After being recruited by good friend Virgil Carr , Fred again moved his family – this time out west to Omaha, NE -- to take a job with Omaha Family Services where he continued his work as a community activist: he renewed his efforts with tenant organization in public housing, served on the boards of the Urban League and Head Start, and was active with the local chapters of the NAACP and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, serving as both the chapter’s Polemarch and Treasurer.
Fred’s retirement years were also marked by service. Having joined Calvin Memorial Presbyterian Church with his family in the early 70s, Fred later became a church deacon and continued to serve with New Life Presbyterian Church after the two churches merged until his health declined. He was an AARP volunteer, teaching computer skills to members; a VA and DAV volunteer; and Fred – a long-time diabetic himself – volunteered to support diabetic issues.
Fred is survived by his sister Iola Willis Washington and two brothers, Clifford and Hillard Willis of St. Louis. Four siblings preceded him in death: Dorothy Willis LaMotte, Alvin Willis, Mathilde Willis Reed, and Lou Willis Washington.
Treasuring his memory, Fred leaves a host of nephews and nieces; six grandchildren ; Rhoma June Willis -- wife of 62 years, and his three children Fred Jr., John Kenneth, and Sharon Kay who will fondly remember their father’s love of lists, cutting of newspaper clippings, obsession with CNN and all things news related, his penchant for filing EVERYTHING; most importantly, they will cherish his example of how to live life and his supportive and patient love.
Airman First Class; brother, husband, father, grandpa, uncle; community activist; fraternity brother, Fred well lived a life of service, embodying the motto of his beloved Kappa Fraternity: ”Achievement In Every Field Of Human Endeavor.
Visitation Wednesday 4 - 6 PM at Roeder Mortuary.
Funeral Service 11:00 AM Thursday at New Life Presbyterian Church 4060 Pratt Street Omaha, NE. Interment Omaha National Cemetery.
Roeder Mortuary, Inc. - Ames Chapel
4932 Ames Ave - Omaha, NE - 402-453-5600