|Birth: ||Aug. 6, 1923|
|Death: ||Mar. 4, 2011|
Sibling of Legend Bob Wills dies at 87
Dancing the night away just moments before, Lorene Wills suddenly found herself falling backward into a sprawling tangle of bodies. "The Cain's had a wonderful dance floor, but it was pretty slick - as we found out. We fell down," she told the Tulsa World years later. "And we just started laughing and couldn't stop; and we couldn't get up." The teenager and her friends, in their zeal "to show everyone how they could dance," had maneuvered their way out among the Cain's Ballroom patrons to the front of the bandstand. There, they got a little carried away and ended up falling flat - right under the nose of the evening's headlining performer and his band. Wills looked up, and sure enough, "there was Bob, looking down at us," she said. Not the only fan to fall for the music of her big brother Bob Wills, Lorene Wills continued to look up to him, although usually from a more upright position. For the lifelong support and enthusiasm that she showed for Western swing music - which Bob and her other brothers, Johnnie Lee, Luke and Billy Jack, helped create and popularize - she was later given a special honor. In 1995, the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame made Lorene Wills an honorary member. A longtime Tulsan and the last surviving sibling of country music legend Bob Wills and his bandleading brothers, Lorene M. Wills died Friday in Tulsa. She was 87. A service was held Monday at Moore's Southlawn Funeral Home. Lorene Wills, the eighth of John and Emmie Wills' nine children, was married for 20 years but never had any children of her own. As a result, said her niece and caretaker Shyrl Suitor, "her family - her mom and dad and her siblings - were everything to her. She was devoted to them." Suitor added that her aunt became the family historian and always carried the banner for its musical legacy. A native of Lakeview, Texas, Lorene Wills moved to the Tulsa area with her family in the late 1930s, as the cotton-farming clan followed the way that Bob had paved. Bob Wills, the patriarchal oldest brother of the family and rising country music star, had relocated his Texas Playboys to Tulsa in the mid-1930s. There, they began doing daily noontime shows on KVOO radio from the Cain's Ballroom, where they also played evening dances twice weekly. "They used to say that Uncle Bob took our family out of the cotton fields," said Suitor, whose late mother was Lorene's older sister, Olga. "Aunt Lorene would say that sometimes they didn't have much to eat back then but they always had music and love." Lorene Wills, the youngest of five sisters, lived in Tulsa for much of her life. She later worked for many years at her brother Johnnie Lee Wills' Western store as a bookkeeper. She retired in 1989. Even at 87, Wills liked to talk about dancing as a youth, when she and her friends lived to go to the Cain's on Thursday and Saturday nights. "She was such a tiny little thing, and even at her advanced age, she had the best legs on her," Suitor said. Wills is survived by many nieces and nephews.
(Tulsa World, Tim Stanley, Writer, March 8, 2011)
Lorene M. Wills, was born August 6, 1923, in Lakeview, TX and passed away Friday, March 4, 2011, in Tulsa, at the age of 87. Preceded in death by her parents, John Tomkins and Emmie Foley Wills, sisters, Ruby Sullivan, Elosie House, Olga Kerr, and Helen McKee; brothers, James Robert Bob Wills, Johnnie Lee Wills, Luther Jay Wills and Billie Jack Wills. Surviving are many loving nieces, nephews, and friends. Lorene retired from Johnnie Lee Wills Western Store in 1989. She was kind, gentle, and loving, always the lady. Everyone who knew her appreciated and loved her wonderful ways. She will be missed by many. Service will be 2:00 P.M., Monday, March 7, at Moores Southlawn Chapel. Moores Southlawn.
(Tulsa World, March 8, 2011)
John Tompkins Wills (1880 - 1952)
Emma Foley Wills (1886 - 1972)
Memorial Park Cemetery
Plot: Section 15, Lot 560, Space 6
Created by: MillieBelle
Record added: Mar 08, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 66629647