Family, friends mourn sudden death of city man, 28

WESTBROOK – Standing outside her family’s home, holding her 16-month-old son Morgan Christopher, Katie Willey remembers her husband as someone who just loved life, and people in general.

“He would do anything for anybody, bend over backward (for them),” she said.

Her husband, Christopher Willey, 28, of Westbrook, a 2000 graduate of Westbrook High School and an employee of Seafax Inc. in Cumberland, died suddenly on Friday. While the family still waits for an answer why Willey was taken from them far too soon, they can take comfort in their memories.

On Wednesday morning, friends and family members gathered at the Willey home on Chestnut Street to mourn the passing of a man they remembered as a loving, caring family man who would do whatever he could to provide support to those he loved.

Katie Willey said that her husband was absolutely devoted to his family, especially Morgan. “He loved his son more than anything in the world,” she said. “Chris absolutely lived for his son, he would get out of his truck every day and yell ‘booger!’ at the top of his lungs and Morgan would get the biggest smile and come running. He loved his daddy so much.”

She said her husband came home from work Friday as usual and after the couple had put Morgan to bed for the night, Willey sat down while his wife worked on the computer.

“He was helping me with something on the computer. He said, ‘Do you want me to do that?’ and after that I looked over and he was gone,” she said.

The family said an autopsy has been performed but the results were not available as of Wednesday morning. She added that Willey had suffered from an irregular heartbeat and she felt that played a role in his death.

“He was on many medications for it,” she said. “I feel like his heart just gave out.”

While she and her husband had known each other as friends through high school and college, Katie Willey said they only started a romantic relationship after reconnecting post-graduation. She said that while they were friends through junior high and high school, it was only after they started dating that they learned that they both had feelings for each other from long before.

“After we finally got together, we found out we had crushes on each other around the same time in high school, but neither of us wanted to ruin the friendship, so neither of us acted upon it,” she said. “Then we both went off to college, and kind of lost touch, but we got back into touch about a year or so later and one thing led to another and within two years of getting back together, we were married.”

They married on June 19, 2004, and their love for each other was readily apparent to both their families.

Bruce Miller, Willey’s father-in-law, said that his relationship with Willey was a close one.

“I’m blessed with three wonderful sons-in-law,” Miller said. “My bond with Chris was different. I would call Chris my friend first and my son-in-law second. From the moment I saw my daughter look into his eyes, I knew then daddy was No. 2.”

Miller added that Willey was there for the members of his family whenever they needed advice or just a sympathetic ear.

“My daughter said with all the kidding and joking they did, Chris was always the one that when she needed to talk something through, she could just call him and just talk and he would listen,” Miller said. “Sometimes he would offer advice and sometimes just offer comfort and peace. He’s done that for me a couple of times, he’s done that for every member of our family.”

Willey’s mother, Ann Willey, said knew almost right away that her son had found his true love.

“I’ve always considered Katie to be my daughter, she’s never been my daughter-in-law,” she said. “She’s always been my daughter since the day I met her. And I knew the minute Chris brought her home for supper that this was the one, because he never brought anyone home for supper.”

Ann Willey said that since Willey’s death, the Miller and Willey families, who have always been close, have drawn even closer to draw support from each other.

“We’ve always been close to (the Miller family) and this has really brought us into one big family now, the support has been fantastic,” she said.

Willey’s father, Roy Willey, said he was proud of the man his son had become, remembering a lesson he gave his son as he was growing up, a lesson that Willey applied to all of his relationships in life.

“One thing that I taught him that he took to heart and added a twist to it was to never talk down to anybody or let anybody talk down to him, look at them on a level playing field,” he said. “He did a lot of that but then he would tease (people). When he did that, when he was teasing people, when he was harassing them, that meant he loved them. And everybody knew that because of the way that he did it.”

Growing up, Willey was heavily involved in Boy Scouts, eventually rising to the rank of Eagle Scout.

“I think that scouting was a big part of his life, it laid a base for everything that he did,” his father said.

Larry Levesque, who was Willey’s scoutmaster when he became an Eagle Scout in 1997, remembered Willey as “a great kid, (he) always had a smile on his face.”

“He was a real good guy,” Levesque added. “A good dad, he loved his family.”

Levesque, who still fondly remembers Willey’s Scout troop, known as Viking Patrol, said that Willey was a good Scout who truly enjoyed working with other people.

“He was serious about his work,” Levesque said. “But he was cheerful about his relations with people.”

“He just loved it,” Willey’s dad said of his son’s time in the Scouts.

Maria Hume, a neighbor of the Willey family on Chestnut Street and longtime family friend, called Willey a “gentle giant,” remembering him with a smile. “He was everybody’s best friend forever, he was always there to support his friends and family,” she said.

Friends were very important to Willey, his wife said. She said he was able to forge meaningful relationships very quickly and make those friendships last.

“He was just the kindest person out there,” she said. “He loved everybody, he loved people, and he loved his son. He was able to build lifelong friendships within moments of meeting people. He had over 600 people on his Facebook page and he actually knew all of them. They weren’t just acquaintances, he knew them.”

Willey’s funeral will be held at St. Anthony Church on Brown Street in Westbrook on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 10 a.m. He will then be buried at the Brooklawn Memorial Park in Portland.

“I can’t begin to say just what a wonderful, wonderful man he was, but also just what a great friend,” Miller said.

A family portrait: Christopher Willey, his wife Katie and son Morgan. Christopher Willey’s funeral is Thursday. Courtesy photo

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