Leon "Red" Keith Willison
He was best known as "Red" by friends his entire life because of his hair which he meticulously combed.
He went to be with our Lord in the morning on February 25, 2017, being welcomed into heaven by his beloved wife Betty and his only son Jerry Leo.
Leon was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma to Neletah and Leo Willison on February 27, 1921, the third of four children. He graduate from Ponca City High School in 1939. He loved all sports and played with the Po Hi Basketball and Football A teams his senior year.
Leon's father taught his sons to bowl and Leon excelled on bowling teams from his youth throughout his adult life. After high school, Leon traveled with several local keglers to other states for bowling tournaments, collecting trophies and a little prize money.
Leon and Barbara "Betty" Townsley met in the bowling alley downtown Ponca City which was an omen of the future as they managed and then owned The Pioneer Bowling Alley on north 14th Street. Leon continued to participate on several bowling teams while managing the business and keeping the pinsetters in operation. He received recognition from United States Bowling Congress for bowling his ultimate 300 game at Pioneer Bowl.
Leon's most memorable moment was when he married Betty in Arkansas City, Kansas on March 2, 1941. He recently stated, this was the best thing that ever happened to him. They celebrated 70 years together in 2011.
Leon enlisted in the Marines during WWII, trained in San Diego, CA as part of the 554th Platoon. He was also stationed in Jacksonville, FL. where he studied at the Aviation Service Schools. He spent 2 years at Cherry Point, NC in an R4D transport squadron before going overseas. In 1945, Leon was sent to the Pacific Ocean Theater, specifically to Bougainville and Tsingtao, China, before his honorable discharge on February 13, 1946.
When Leon returned to Ponca City after his military service, he worked at Cities Service, Sequoia, and Conoco in addition to managing and later owning the Pioneer Bowl.
Leon enjoyed taking his family on summer camping trips to Roaring River State Park in Cassville, MO where they joined their Willison relatives to fish for trout.
Leon and Betty established a cabin retreat when Timberline Heights was developed near Kaw City. They joined many friends on the weekends for the neighborhood fish fry.
Betty and Leon were long time members of the First Christian Church of Ponca City. The Willison's also attended Eastern Heights Christian Church.
Leon is preceded in death of his beloved wife, his son Jerry Leo, his parents and only sister Margaret. He is survived by his daughters Barbara Yvonne Mosley and her husband Bill of Skiatook, OK; Susan Willison of Dallas, TX; Mary Edwards and her husband Larry of Edmond, OK; Kathryn Willison of Dallas TX; and Jerry's wife Jayne of Clarendon Hills, IL. He was grandfather to William Mosley and his wife Frida of Tulsa, OK; Jennifer Marlatt and her husband Lance of Lahoma, OK; step grandchildren Derek Huyser and his wife Sonia of Palatine, IL, Meegan Weiland and her husband Stephen of Dunlap,. IL; Catherine Kennedy and her husband Ray of Richmond, KY; Larry Edwards Jr. and his wife Ann of La Cresenta, CA; Jennifer Wileman and her husband Trip of Oklahoma City, OK. His great grandchildren are Maggie Gibson, Emilee Marlatt, Billy and Daniel Mosley; step great grandchildren are Nikolas, Aleksander, Luka and Ella Huyser; William, Amelia, and Olivia Weiland; Hannah Bussey, Addison and Grayson Wileman, Bronson and Ellory Edwards. His great great grandchild is Magnolia Gibson.
Leon is also survived by his brothers James "Jimmie" Willison, Ponca City, OK; and Robert "Bobby" Willison, Ponca City, OK and their families.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the following: First Christian Church, 210 North 5th, Ponca City, Oklahoma 74601 or McCord Senior Citizens Center, 115 East Mary Rd, Ponca City, Oklahoma 74604.
Detail as finalized:
The family will meet visitors on Wednesday, March 1 at Grace Memorial, time 4 p.m.to 6 p.m.
Burial will be Thursday, March 2, at Longwood Cemetery at 11:30 am followed by the celebration of life at First Christian Church, 5th and Cleveland, at 1:00 pm.