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Bernard M. Willis
Bernard M. Willis

April 4, 1937 - March 1, 2020
Born in Dearborn, Michigan
Resided in Novi, Michigan
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Willis, Bernard “Bernie”

On Sunday, March 1, 2020, Bernard Michael Willis, devoted husband, father of three, and grandfather to five, passed away at the age of 82.

Bernie was born on April 4, 1937 in Dearborn, MI to Bernard and Mary (Melvin) Willis. He graduated in 1955 from Assumption High School in Windsor, Ontario and received a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy in 1961. He met the love of his life, Susan Babel, through a local ski group and on October 20, 1967 they were married at St. Alphonsus Church in Dearborn, MI. They raised three boys, Patrick, Bernard and Thomas.

A man of foresight and independence, Bernie shed the corporate world early in life. As an entrepreneur, builder, developer and mentor, Bernie pursued opportunity with poise and purpose. From supplying snow removal and rustproofing services to the automotive industry to pioneering the 10-Minute oil change business and much more, Bernie left his mark with good humor and uncompromised integrity.

Ever the handy-man, Bernie especially loved to build things. His work for the University of Detroit Jesuit High merits special recognition; while he gifted most of his time and expertise to The High, he said it was the best job he ever had. Under Bernie’s steady direction and supervision, the High was completely transformed. The 1998-2001 expansion added 10 new state-of-the-art classrooms, a new gym, several fine arts rooms and critical support offices.

Being married to an entrepreneur can be exciting. Susan remembers the early years being full of fun challenges but she loved the joys of being part of such a close extended family and thoroughly enjoyed the life-long adventure.

Bernie’s golden years were filled with his love of travel and the joys of his grandchildren Luke, Cole, Anna, Peter, and Molly. A devout Catholic, he will be remembered most for his kindness and compassion. He is preceded in death by his sister Mary Ann and survived by sons Patrick (Julie), Bernard, Thomas (Jessica) and many loving cousins.

Family will receive friends Friday, March 6, 2020 from 3-8pm with a 6pm Sharing of Memories at 7pm Scripture Service at A.J. Desmond & Sons (Vasu, Rodgers & Connell Chapel), 32515 Woodward Ave. (btwn 13-14 Mile), (248) 549-0500.

Funeral Mass Saturday, March 7, 2020, 11am at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 730 S. Lafayette Ave., Royal Oak. Visitation at church begins at 10:30am A proper Irish wake will follow at 3pm the home of Thomas & Jessica Willis in Huntington Woods.

Bernie was a man with a big heart and would be beyond happy to have donations in his name to the University of Detroit Jesuit High School: For those who may have already donated to UofD this year, Bernie also loved the Acton Institute and would love to know some have donated in his name there:

Thank you.

With love,
The Willis Family

~Lovingly written by the family~





A.J. Desmond & Sons (Vasu, Rodgers & Connell Chapel)
32515 Woodward Ave.
Royal Oak, MI US 48073
Friday, March 6, 2020
3:00 PM - 8:00 PM
- Show more -
Funeral Mass
St. Mary Catholic Church
730 S. Lafayette @ Lincoln
Royal Oak, MI US 48067
Saturday, March 7, 2020
11:00 AM


University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy
8400 S. Cambridge
Detroit, MI US 48221
Supporting U of D Jesuit allows us to give the opportunity of a Jesuit education to all the young men that walk through the doors. With your gift, you demonstrate your confidence in U of D Jesuit High School and Academy and that you believe in our mission and the learning that takes place here. Your participation will encourage others to give and brings our community together as we all share the investment in the students and our school.
Acton Institute
98 E. Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
The Acton Institute is a think-tank whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.