Ralph B. Willis

GORHAM – Ralph B. Willis, known by all as “Skip”, passed away at his shop on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Skip was born in Westbrook on Sept. 8, 1938 to Bertha (Bridges) and Ralph Morse Willis and attended primary and secondary school in both Guilford and Gorham. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

Skip married Gloria Virginia Golden on August 15, 1959, and they moved to Massachusetts where Skip took a job at Polaroid Corporation. He was a member of the Polaroid design team that created the SX-70 camera and film which is shown on the TV programs “Modern Marvels: ’70s Tech” and “101 Gadgets That Changed the World”. While in Massachusetts, he also completed the Financial Management course from Boston University, as well as a course in Restoration and Moving of Historical Buildings from Harvard Graduate School Seminary. While at Polaroid Corporation in Cambridge, Mass., Skip moved from Design Engineer to Senior Engineer.

In 1972, the family returned to Maine so that Skip could start his own company, Willis Moving and Rigging. There, he specialized in the diagnosis and repair of faulty sections of buildings as well as moving buildings and heavy machinery. He ran this successful company for decades until joining Data General’s Westbrook plant, serving in Engineering, Purchasing, and Facilities Supervisory capacities.

Skip led a life of service, modeling it to his children and grandchildren. Over his lifetime, Skip served as the Facilities Supervisor and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Galilee Baptist Church in Gorham. He was also member of the Finance Committee, the Board of Deacons, and the Board of Trustees at Little Falls Baptist Church, served on the Board of Directors at Camp Berea, and as a board member and mentor at the Hudson Massachusetts Boys Club. He also served on the Board of Directors at Gorham Savings Bank where he was recognized by his ever-ready smile, amiable disposition, and sharp wit.

Skip will be remembered for his service to God, his community, his family, and his neighbors. He was a very patient and kind teacher; willing to train all young drivers to operate the stick-shift in the blue “tug”. He was known for his ability to improvise fixes for anything (and improve upon those things that didn’t need fixing), his ability to build anything, his incredible memory of everything that has ever happened in Gorham, his profound kindness, and his willingness to help anyone, anywhere, at any time. Skip was a teacher and a mentor to his kids, grandkids, and many others. He passed on his smarts and mechanical aptitude and leaves his family with a rich legacy of service to others, a deep love of God, and the importance of always being kind.

Skip is survived by his wife of 62 years, Gloria; his four children, Diana Snee and husband Gary, Jeff Willis and wife Norma, Janet MacLeod, and Lori Willis Rumery and husband Phil; grandchildren Nicole Fairweather and husband Josh, Carolyn Snee, Kyle Willis and wife Mary, Colby Willis, Sarah MacLeod and wife Marissa Berry, Shawn Rumery, Christopher Rumery; and three great-grandchildren, Brooke Kazimer, Elliana Colimon and Caleb Fairweather, all of whom he loved dearly.

Visiting hours will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday Jan. 30, at the Gorham Chapel of Dolby, Blais and Segee, 76 State St., Gorham. Masks will be provided for anyone who forgets to bring one. A memorial service for Skip will be announced in the spring. To express condolences and to participate in Skip’s online tribute please visit http://www.DolbyBlaisSegee.com

Skip was so humbled when he received thank you notes from pre-engineering students who had benefited from the SMCC scholarship created in his honor by Gorham Savings bank upon his retirement.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Ralph B. “Skip” Willis and Gorham Savings Bank Scholarship Fund administered through The Foundation for Maine’s Community College by visiting

https://www.maineccfoundation.org/

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