James Belmont Willis, Jr.
  • 75 years old
  • Date of birth: Jan 2, 1937
  • Date of passing: Jul 21, 2012
Let the memory of James be with us forever
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, James Willis, Jr., 75, born on January 2, 1937 and passed away on July 21, 2012. We will remember him forever.
Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Matthew Willis on 2nd January 2018

"Hey Dad,  Its your birthday.  You would have been 81. Wow how This life is crazy.  Miss you everyday. To much to write here but we talk about out frequently. Love you,  Marni loves you too.  Oh,  add JBW sends his kisses. Man i miss you!
Love you

This tribute was added by Matthew Willis on 21st July 2017

"Dad: Its been 5 years since your physical presence left us. I have to say its been hard without you. But, what I can say is that it almost seems like the more time that passes the more present you are. Jas has so much of you its not funny from that smile and dimples to his mannerisms. Damn how life throws you some crazy curve balls. Sammy and I were just talking about how you taught us that its not about just getting to the destination its about taking the time to enjoy and see the new along the way. Not to hesitate to go off on a new road paint a new picture and most of all create what you want. The world is my oyster and you will and have always been my pearl. I carry you with me in everything that i do. 5years seems like decades but our powers will reunite again. I love you for always."

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 21st July 2017

"This year the gift of James' children becoming family to me renews itself. I will be seeing three of them around the country in the next three months.Truly a treasure in my life."

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 21st July 2016

"Thank you for the gift of your wonderful family. I will be seeing most of them in the next three months and we'll share happy memories of you."

This tribute was added by Lynne Braxton on 21st July 2016

"Miss you so much, Dad"

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 21st July 2015

"In loving memory. Marion Jacobs"

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 2nd January 2015

"One of the great gifts James gave me was sharing his wonderful family with me.  I visited with many of them this fall in North Carolina. We all missed him together. The years pass, but the memories are still strong."

This tribute was added by John Yurko on 2nd January 2015

"Miss you, Jim."

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 20th July 2014

"Tomorrow will be two years since James passed away. Our lives have all moved on, but the love and memory of James remain strong. My closeness with his family is a precious gift for which I am forever grateful. With love to all those who loved James.

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 2nd January 2014

"James, with his wonderful sense of humor, and classy southern style, lives on in our memories. People around Laguna Beach remind me of that, often sharing their memories. He shared his family with me too, a loving and ongoing gift."

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 21st July 2013

"It's hard to believe that an entire year has passed from that fateful Saturday night when his family and I gathered at his bedside, said our final goodbyes, and watched him leave us forever. He is very loved and very missed."

This tribute was added by Barbara Lolli on 3rd January 2013

"I miss sharing our mutual January 2nd Birthday, in spirit we still share,  
With many fond remembrances"

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 2nd January 2013

"This would have been James' 76th birthday. He is remembered with love in all of our hearts. We miss you James!"

This tribute was added by Barbara Lolli on 17th December 2012

"I just returned from a trip, a creative quest.   Cosanti & Arcosanti (studio of Paolo Soleri, student of Frank Lloyd Wright), Taliesen (Wrights school) and other architectural sites. A journey James would love & details he would point out.  I miss our banter over the years, always making me push my design just a little more. I will miss celebrating our mutual January 2 birthday."

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 17th November 2012

"It is almost four months since James left us, but he remains in so many hearts. I miss him deeply. He was the love of my life."

This tribute was added by Barbara Zahn on 17th August 2012

"It is my regret that I only had the opportunity to spend one evening in the company of James Willis during a rare visit to California.  I feel that I would have appreciated his sense of humor and compassion, traits that I value highly.  I am, however, grateful that my cousin, Marion, had him in her life, which was enriched by his presence."

This tribute was added by Murray Palatnick on 8th August 2012

Your soul sails on and you are on a starboard tack.  Some day we will be sailing together and do the cruising that we so often talked about.
It would also be fun to tee up and play eighteen holes in Hawaii."

This tribute was added by barbara hamkalo on 3rd August 2012

"Dear James - a true Southern Gentleman, but with a wicked sense of humor, which I was frequently the butt of - and I loved it!

I thank my dear friend Marion for introducing me to this exceptional man."

This tribute was added by Jim Rue on 3rd August 2012

"I was saddened to learn of the passing of James Willis, He was already contending with heart ailments and struggling to continue his architectural activities when I met him but he remained of good humor and appreciative of life, and of Marion. I enjoyed my conversations with James. He was always warm and engaging. I will miss him."

This tribute was added by Allen Chalk on 3rd August 2012

"Pug and Matt,

I am thinking about you and your family.  Your dad was a good man and will be missed!"

This tribute was added by keith hoyt on 2nd August 2012

"I did not know James, but I did have the privilege of getting to meet his son Matthew.  To see all the love from so many people that were close to him, proves the awesomeness of this man.  I wish I had had the opportunity to meet James.  I have the highest respect for fathers that turn out such incredibly viable children, where love for family remains forever."

This tribute was added by Gale Swann on 2nd August 2012

"The Swann girls, Gale, Sally, and Lila send their love.  James designed a wonderful house for us which also happened to be next door to him.  Sammy, do you remember the afternoons you sat at Mom's kitchen table and ate vanilla wafers and drank 2-liter drinks?  What good times we had on the shore. James was a remarkable man and we are proud to be among his friends. Be in touch."

This tribute was added by Lee Winocur Field on 30th July 2012

"James was a class act.  He had great style, tremendous wit and wisdom.  Even in a bathrobe, he looked like a page out of GQ.  Better yet, he was a man of compassion, warmth and uncompromising gentility..  And he produced a mean martini.  We wish there were more like him.  He will be missed."

This tribute was added by Lee Winocur Field on 30th July 2012

"James had style, and wit, and wisdom.  Even in a bathrobe he looked like a page in GQ.  An evening with James and Marion was an evening spent with Thurber, and Shakespeare and Borowitz.  And he was so brave!  Life with Marion must have been good because he fought so hard for it.  We are deeply grateful to have known this delightful, kind and gentle man. ."

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 30th July 2012

"Our friend Andy Kliss wrote to me about James and said about this website:
That is a very touching tribute to a Grand Old Southern Gentleman who didn’t mind voicing his thoughts when necessary."

This tribute was added by Wyndi Miller Hills on 29th July 2012

"I lost the most important man in my life on July 21st when James passed away.  He was biologically my uncle, but in practice, was a father to me.  I think of Lynne, Sammy, Pug and Matthew more as siblings than as cousins.  I am thankful for the style, courage and grace that he taught me!  I will love him forever and hope to live with his laid-back spirit for the rest of my days!"

This tribute was added by Heath Williams on 29th July 2012

"Hey Pug and Matthew,

From our wonderful summers together on South 13th Street I vividly  remember the smell of your Dad's pipe, his kind eyes, the mellow cadence of his voice and, of course, his red MG. He was a lovely man. I am thinking of you and yours and sending you Love."

This tribute was added by Carol Stone on 28th July 2012

"The WGA -- world's greatest architect -- James B. Willis, Jr.  It is a sadder, lonelier place without you, your gentle soul, your love, your smile.  You have left us with many memories which we hold in our hearts forever.  But that we could hold you in our arms one last time, kiss you one last time.  You live on in Sammy, Matthew, Pug, and Lynn.  Peace."

This tribute was added by Ally Braxton on 28th July 2012

"Tomorrow will be a sad day for me in MHC, that's for sure. But it will be nothing compared to all of the freaking amazing memories I have from all the years me and my "Daddle" shared there. You inspired me in so many ways- musically, artistically but most of all- you taught me how to take life as it is and sometimes, just simply laugh."

This tribute was added by Sharon Comden on 27th July 2012

"Dave and I knew James through our friend Marion.  We send our condolences to Marion and to the family and friends who knew James well.  He was a unique and cherished friend, witty, and exercised his free spirit.  The kind words and touching stories left by others are a testament to a complex and beloved man who left this world a better place when he passed."

This tribute was added by Mayra Gutierrez on 26th July 2012

"James was caring, charming, and funny. I'll never forget when he taught me the value of x for college algebra. After a while, being the comedian he was, x became an inside joke. Because he could make light of any situation and loved to make people laugh, he also taught me not to take life so seriously. I'm going to miss you James!"

This tribute was added by Jinger Wallace on 26th July 2012

"James - we shall miss you - your warmth, kindness and charm.  Always the southern gentleman with just the right touch of the rascal.  As George Bernard Shaw said, "A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out."  When I see the love and generosity you gave to Marion and your beautiful children, I can think of no better example."

This tribute was added by Marni Falk on 26th July 2012

"One thing James loved was Mark Twain and with a smile he would quote Mr. Twain to Matthew and I.  So in remembrance a quote from Mark Twain that’s fitting for how it’s seemed for the last week:

“Grief can take care of itself, but to get full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.”
- Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

This tribute was added by Marni Falk on 26th July 2012

""I’ve had the privilege to know James B. Willis and be apart of the family for 9 years.  It was in these 9 years that James made an unquestionable impression on myself and others that surrounded his existence.  As funny and on point as he was, he had a way of making a pear-shaped world make sense.  You’re an incredible person that lives on in Matthew, Pug, Lynne, and Sammy-love you guys!""

This tribute was added by Mason Williams on 26th July 2012

"Pug and Mathew,

I don't step out of 404 South 13th street without seeing "your" house and having a nice thought of all the great times we had running back and forth across the street. James was such a fine man, great Dad and neighbor.  We will all miss him but I know none more than you."

This tribute was added by John Yurko on 26th July 2012

"Hey Pug, Matthew, Sammy, & Lynn,
You probably already know this, but James was my single biggest influence as an architect, and like a father to me personally. I hope he knows how much he is loved. The Willis door was always open, I had a lifetime of fun with him and you guys as well, and miss him and his kind voice already. He was a great man."

This tribute was added by suzanne esko on 26th July 2012

"Marion was so fortunate to have found such a special guy to share her life. Courtly, bright and unfailingly funny. Ah, sweet James I shall miss you!"

This tribute was added by Peter Williams on 26th July 2012

"Hey Mathew and Pug, I'm really sorry for your lose.It was wonderful to grow up next door to you guys.  I'll be thinking of you in the coming days.  Lots of love."

This tribute was added by Catherine Williams on 26th July 2012

"Dear Matthew, Pug and Sammy...
I am in MHC right now looking across the street at your house and missing you and your wonderful people. Your dad was one of a kind, a charming, talented man who loved his people.  I am sending you lots of love and my heart felt condolences."

This tribute was added by mary wright on 26th July 2012

"Dear Matthew, Pug and Sammy: our thoughts are with you. James was one of a kind in the best way. Love to you all. Mary Frances, John, Richard."

This tribute was added by Jill Waterman on 26th July 2012

"I knew James through my good friend Marion Jacobs.  He was kind and sweet, so caring to Marion, a great storyteller and wonderful architect.  I know how much he loved his children, and it is very sad that he is gone."

This tribute was added by Kristin Gainey Ferree on 25th July 2012

"I will always remember James from when I was a little girl running around the Haystacks in Morehead. I always thought of him as a wise, kind, calm man. I have thought of him and the rest of the family often throughout the years. My thought s and prayers are with you all now and always."

This tribute was added by Sandy Barton on 25th July 2012

"Pug, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I am sorry for your loss."

This tribute was added by Laura Chalk on 25th July 2012

"Pug and Matt, just want you to know that I'm thinking about both of you and saying many prayers for your family."

This tribute was added by Susan Moore Layman on 25th July 2012

"James was the most lovely man. He was always a Southern gentleman with just the right amount of twinkle in his eye, quick to laugh, tease and share a joke. He will be greatly missed."

This tribute was added by Bree Rosen on 25th July 2012

"James was the consummate gentleman-- and a world-class flirt.  I'll miss his kindly ways, sharp wit, and dulcet voice."

This tribute was added by Sharyl Falk on 25th July 2012

"Your father was an extrodinary man who was so loved by his family, the world is a sadder place without him. Your hearts are hurting and it will be a long time for that hurt to heal, it will, but you have such wonderful memories of this extrodinary man. Heaven got a new angel. You are all in my thoughts and prayers."

This tribute was added by marion jacobs on 25th July 2012

"James was the love of my life and my true soul mate. I shall miss him forever. We shared many wonderful times, and later  many difficult ones because of illness. His charm, wit, humor, caring, kindness, integrity,bravery and values were truly impressive. This was a man who was loved by everyone who had the blessing of knowing him."

This tribute was added by Gail Macfadden on 25th July 2012

"Matthew, Pug and Sammy, you are in my thoughts and prayers as well as those of my family (I hope you know that). I am sure you're dad will be missed, not only by you but by all those who knew him. Hugs to you all!"

This tribute was added by Brooke Lupton on 25th July 2012

"Mitt-Matt I love you and Pugnacious. I know Nana has prepared an awesome down east meal for him in heaven. Wish I could hug you guys."

This tribute was added by Brooke Lupton on 25th July 2012

"As a little girl, my Uncle James fascinated me. I loved being around his calm spirit and listening to his warm laughter. He always made me feel at ease, welcomed and loved. I appreciated his creativity and talents. He always knew how to have a good time. My favorite way to remember him is at Core Banks with braids in his hair, playing board games with the family. I love that sweet man."

This tribute was added by Josh Stafford on 25th July 2012

"hey matt sorry to hear about all yer family has going on at the time I can't imagine. Yer dad was always one laid back dude and was always a pleasure to be around thoughts and prayers,"

This tribute was added by Sally Miller on 25th July 2012

"Jimmy was my first big brother.  Being the only girl in the family, and the baby at that, I was on the receiving end of his incessant teasing and taunting, but I considered it a sign of his affection.  I was so proud of him and freely boasted about his attributes and accomplishments. Pianist, artist, architect, sailor, designer, snappy dresser...and a great brother was jas b."

This tribute was added by Charlie Weatherby on 25th July 2012

"Pops was one of the most layed back cool cats that has ever graced this earth. His style and swagger in his everyday life is what I believe made him such a great architect and person. I can see him now smoking his pipe laying his great words of wisdom on us!! He will be missed dearly but never forgotten!! My love and condolences to all the Willis family"

This tribute was added by Kristen Brooks on 25th July 2012

"Hey Matt, I never had the privilege of meeting your dad, but from the way you've always talked about him, I'm sure he was not only an amazing father, but an amazing man. I can't imagine what you are going through right now, but I hope you know that you have 2 good friends up here in Arrowhead that are always here for you, our door is always open and you're in our thoughts, always. Love you"

This tribute was added by Matthew Willis on 25th July 2012

"For anyone who comes to this site feel free to send me any pictures you may have of my father. He was a great man and I am trying to compile a collection of photos in his honor. Email me at with the photos attached or just to send me a message. Thank You!"

This tribute was added by Matthew Willis on 25th July 2012

"James Belmont Willis Jr. was an architect of an era in which architecture was a lifestyle. Architecture can take on many different shapes if read in the right light. My father was not only an architect in profession but an architect of life. His design of love, care, and compassion was bred deeply in his four children as well as in his love for life. Daddy, thank you for everything!"

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This memorial is administered by:

Matthew Willis


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