Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Clara Louise (Gehron) Willis, 89, of Springdale, Ark., passed from the bounds of her mortal life on Nov. 30, 2012, at Springdale Health and Rehabilitation Center.

She was born on Nov. 11, 1923, in Celina, Ohio, to Charles and Suszanna Gehron. Clara had a penchant to write. As a teenager, she served on the staff of the Tatler, a Celina High School publication. She majored in English at John Brown University (JBU) in Siloam Springs (BA, 1945), and was the associate editor of the campus newspaper, The Threefold Advocate. While at JBU, she met Charles D. Willis, whom she married in 1946 in Montezuma, Ohio. The couple settled in northwest Arkansas. They were married for 66 years.

Clara co-founded Siloam Springs Writers and served as the club's first president (1973--1979); she was actively involved with writers' associations in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. As a professional writer, her works of poetry and prose appeared in newspapers, magazines and books; poetry was her specialty, the Shakespearean sonnet, her favorite form. Her love of God, family and nature were communicated through her writing. She shared her craft through creative and instructional programs, which included presentations in Siloam Springs at the Sager Creek Arts Center, elementary schools and JBU; at Springdale Poets and Writers; in Fayetteville at the Northwest Arkansas Women's Festival and Conference; and in Celina, Ohio, at Stateline Christian Writers Club. During her career, she also taught scriptwriting at JBU, was a linotype operator in Grand Rapids, Mich., and was a radio scriptwriter and proofreader in Chicago, Ill.

Clara is survived by her husband, Charles, of Springdale, Ark.; two sons, Darnéy and wife, Norma Jean Willis, and Chris L. and wife, Valarie Willis, all of Siloam Springs, Ark.; a daughter, Suzan J. (Willis) Holt, of Garfield; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and brother, Clyde L. and wife Bobbye Gehron, of DeRidder, La. She was preceded in death by her sister, Ferneva H. Gehron, and brother, Vernie C. Gehron.

A celebration of Clara's past and enduring life was held at the Rogers Christian Church, 2501 West Oak Street, today (Wednesday) Burial followed at Oak Hill Cemetery in Cassville. Memorials may be given to The Charles and Suszanna Gehron Memorial Endowed Scholarship, JBU. Arrangements are under the direction of the Backstrom-Pyeatte Funeral Home of Springdale. Please visit to sign an online guest book.