|Birth: ||Apr. 1, 1950|
|Death: ||Jun. 27, 2009|
Linda Kathaleen (Willis) Stephenson of Dean Lake, Chariton County, MO., passed away suddenly at her home on June 27, 2009. She was born on April 1, 1950, in Carrollton, Carroll County, MO., the second child and first daughter of Edwin Marion Willis and Evelyn Florence (Todd) Willis, of rural Wakenda, MO. She was given the nickname of "Doodle" by her father, and "Shorty" by her husband.
Growing up on the farm just north and east of Wakenda, "along the bluff", Linda played a key role in the family "togetherness". Her interests included reading, making everyone feel special and was an excellent seamstress. In fact, everything that she set out to attempt, became of excellent quality, and to the rest of us it seemed to be so easy for her. She helped with farm chores, made clothes for all of us and later would make entire wedding dresses and men's suits for others, as well as her own wedding and for me, her little sister. Making doll clothes caught her fancy too. She watched our mother hang wallpaper and easily caught on to do her own. Coming from a family that made a big ta-do over birthdays, she started baking and decorating delicious cakes for every family member, and was always thinking ahead to find just the perfect gift that seemed to be personalized for the recipient. All three of the Willis children started working at Bales' Orchard at a young age. Linda always enjoyed getting a nice tan that went along with the grueling heat of summer. She also 'hoed' beans for different farmers, de-tasseled corn, and helped with summer canning at home. She, like the rest of us, first learned to drive a tractor before we ever attempted driving a car. Linda was the first to help when anyone was in need. She had the most compassionate nature, and devoted much of her life running to the rescue of others. She never pondered long over making decisions. Once made, she was full speed ahead and no one dared to pull on her shirt tail and say "wait, don't you want to think about this a little more?" Not many of her spur of the moment decisions ever backfired on her.
She attended grades 1-8 at Wakenda School, and graduated with the class of 1968 at Carrollton High School. Linda married Edward Rae Endicott on Sept 7, 1968. There were no children to this union and they were divorced 7 years later. Right out of high school she was the secretary for Bob Bryant, Prosecutor of Carroll County for seven years. Single, and moving to the Kansas City, MO area, she then became the secretary for a group of lawyers in Lenexa, KS. Seems like a lot of 7's in her life, she worked for them for 7 years as well. She held part time jobs over the next years, to include the final cleaning of new homes for show. That job would find her at the top of 30 ft ladders washing windows. During her and her husband, Larry's, years of foster parenting, she typed and proofread cook books, often finding herself burning midnight hours after the children had gone to bed.
Linda joined the Missouri Army National Guard (1139'th Military Police Co.) on February 1, 1975, at the age of 25, and completed her basic training in Ft. McClellan, AL. She then served in active duty for two years from June 1981 to June 1983. She returned to reserve status at that time and completed her 25 years, 9 months of service as a member of the 11'th Battalion, Command & General Staff College. 6'th Brigade, 95'th Division, having been promoted to the rank of E-7 while with the 5039th USARF School, 102nd ARCOM. It was through her military career that she met her husband Larry Everett Stephenson, then of Higginsville, MO.
On May 25, 1982, she married Larry Everett Stephenson. They lived in Lone Jack, MO for a number of years. It was during this time that the two of them welcomed more than 30 foster children into their home in a 12 year span, one of whom they adopted, Daniel "Danny" Lee (Sturgeon) Stephenson. Another foster child, Sherman Collins, whom they brought home at two days old, has remained a part of their family. Upon her husband's retirement, they moved to Dean Lake, Chariton County, MO., her husband's childhood home. It is there that Larry sparked the desire in Linda to start deer hunting about 25 years earlier. It allowed her to temporarily slow down, sit and gaze, pause,... to enjoy the beauty of nature and know once again, what the sound of near silence might be like.
Linda will be long remembered by her love of family, friends, and strangers, always giving of herself for others. Through her kind heart, she has touched many lives.
She was presently site manager of the Grand Court Apartments in Brunswick; a member of the Brunswick American Legion; the elected president of the Brunswick Senior Citizens Center; a member of the Rusty Bucket Club;the Mendon High School Booster Club, and Findagrave.
She and her husband, Larry, have maintained the Stephenson Family Cemetery, near their home in Dean Lake, for many years, and were also active in other cemetery works. Just before her death she had spent many an hour, and many a mile, visiting cemeteries to explore ideas of how to build a Register of Interments at McCullough Cemetery, near Dean Lake, where some of her husband's family are buried. Leaving this life before that project was completed, her husband and other board members of McCullough Cemetery, saw to it that her dream would come true, using the charts, a scale model and her notes to complete it.
Linda and her sister, Loretta, had also discovered, as she called it, the "wandering and wonderings' of Findagrave. They spent any treasured 'spare time' together, exploring the more forgotten cemeteries in both Carroll County and Charitan County, documenting and photographing those stones and graves of those that might be lost forever. With hopes of memorializing those who had gone before us and allowing family to connect, who have been in search of them. Linda spent many late hours on her computer, once more, 'doing for others'.
She was a member of the Wakenda Baptist Church; the National Honor Society; the Leta Lads and Lassies 4H club; and was the proud recipient of the Betty Crocker Award.
Linda is survived by her husband, Larry E. Stephenson; her son Daniel (Danny) Lee Stephenson of Dean Lake; Step-daughter Stephanie Morgan and her daughter Amanda Long, of Higginsville, MO; long-time foster son, Sherman Collins, of Marshall, MO; her mother-in-law, Lillian 'Hildred' Stephenson of Brunswick,MO; a brother-in-law, Lonnie Stephenson and wife, Virginia, of Kansas City, MO, and their sons, Nate and Matt; her brother, Robert Allen (Bob) Willis and wife, Mary Sue (Finley) Willis of rural Carrollton, MO; their children, Robert Andrew (Andy) Willis, of rural Carrollton and his son, Robert Austin Willis of Brunswick, MO; Amy Marie (Willis) Sarbaugh and her husband Aaron of Carrollton, and their two children, Tanner Lee Sarbaugh and Kesley Eve Sarbaugh; a sister, Loretta Ann Rainey-Fones and husband Roger of Bogard, MO, and her two daughters, Misty Lynn Rainey of Bogard, MO; Mayla Kate Rainey and her two sons, Alexander Gage Sides and Michael Andrew Ryan, all of Bogard, MO; once brother-in-law, Martin Dewitt "Digger" Rainey of Carrollton, MO; along with other great nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were held at the Gibson Funeral Home in Brunswick on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 10:00 am with Gail Brown officiating, and her sister, Loretta, speaking. Visitation was from 7-8:30 pm: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at the funeral home.
Burial was at The Evergreen Cemetery at Dewitt, MO, with Military Honors provided by Rucker-McAllister Post #7 American Legion of Brunswick, MO. Pallbearers were Andy Willis, Nathan and Mathew Stephenson, Aaron Sarbaugh, Sherman Collins, and Danny Dobbins.
Her funeral procession to the cemetery, with vehicles stretching over two miles, was led by 4 Missouri State Highway Patrol vehicles with their emergency lights flashing, followed by uniformed personel of the United States Army. It was a tremendous offering of Honor in her behalf, to have representatives/co-workers of the U.S. Army in attendance as well as MO State Troopers, of whom she was affiliated through her husband being a Trooper for over 34 years. Linda had given more than 20 years to the U.S. Army.
Memorials were made to the Brunswick Senior Citizens Center or the charity of choice.
Growing up in the Willis home, there was a saying.. "Where there's a Willis, there's always a way." Linda could always make it happen, no matter how difficult the task. Her love, grace, wit and talents were the makeup of an amazing woman. She never met a stranger, always walking up to someone, saying "Hi, I'm Linda, who are you?"
Humbled by her abscence, I, as her sister, sign off with "Each Day Counts", ever since she left us in the blink of an eye. Although we never left anything un-felt, un-done or un-said, it is with regret, that we didn't get to grow old together. Until too, my own heart takes it's last beat, I will forever love you, my dear sister.
Written by your own 'southpaw', and maybe or not you knew, that one day I would come across it among your 'things', I found this..
"When it's late,
deep in the night,
and all is asleep,
an Angel takes flight.
From here and there she
floats with grace,
sending her blessings
all over the place."
It explains why you 'came' to my bedside a couple of years ago, smiling, and cupped my cheeks in your hands. Whether it was really you, I'm not sure, but it sure seemed to be. And as our Daddy use to say "It'd be nice to think so". Always missing you, and loving you forever, your baby sister "Dumpy".
Edwin Marion Willis (1915 - 1997)
Evelyn Florence Todd Willis (1926 - 1988)
Robert Allen Willis (1946 - 2014)*
Linda Kathaleen Willis Stephenson (1950 - 2009)
Loretta Ann Willis Rainey-Fones (1953 - ____)*
WE WERE SOLDIERS
Note: Linda actually passed away at her home in the community of Dean Lake, Charitan County, but was pronunced deceased in the Brookfield Hosptial, Linn County, Brookfield, Missouri
Created by: Loretta (Willis) Rainey-...
Record added: Jun 27, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 38816036