John Willits ’51
John Willits ’51 of Naples, Florida, age 88, passed away at the home of his daughter Debra, husband Michael Hoefling and daughter Lisa Hoefling on December 8, 2016 in Naples, FL. He was preceded in death by his parents: Dr. Paul and Alice Willits; his son, Michael Voigt Willits, his brother Paul Willits Jr and wife Alice, and brother-in-law James Vander Ploeg. He is survived by his wife Beverly, sister-in-law Joan Vander Ploeg, daughter Debra, son David, daughter-in-law Cindy Willits (of LaPine, Oregon) and his grandson John Willits (also of Oregon). He is additionally survived by his nephews and nieces and their families: Paul III, Diane Hamel, Tam La Dou, Jim and Doug Vander Ploeg.
John grew up in Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from East Grand Rapids High School and Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He married his childhood sweetheart in 1950 and they recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. John served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. He was the Vice President of Internal Grinding and Honing Abrasives. He and his wife were active members of East Congregational Church in Grand Rapids for many years, later of Ada Congregational Church in Michigan and the United Church of Christ in Ft. Myers, Florida.
John and Beverly enjoyed their boat, the Summer Cat, and their fellow boaters docked at Barrette’s Marina, Spring Lake, MI. They also loved travelling in their RV and spending fun year round with family and friends at their cabin on the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette River, Pleasant Plains in Baldwin, Michigan. The cabin became their first retirement home as they wintered in Florida at America Outdoors in Fort Myers. Their residence, at America Outdoors, then became their second retirement home with many more happy and fun experiences with old and new friends. They lived next at Lely Palms Retirement Village, Naples, FL., and have spent the last year and a half at the home of their daughter and her husband. John was always the hard working, fun loving, giving husband and father and grandfather. Lifelong, he volunteered his time and energy to many; he experienced a full and happy life. He was a man of faith and has now returned to his home with God and the others who he loved so much and have gone before him.