Maxine Wilson Willis
Maxine Wilson Willis, 89, of Goodyear, Arizona, passed away July 7, 2019, at her home surrounded by close family. She was born on June 18, 1930, in Bixby, Oklahoma to Rowe Harrison “R.H.” and Emma Lucretia “Crete” (Gifford) Wilson.
Maxine spent her childhood in Leonard and Bixby, OK where she made many fond memories growing up with her 2 brothers and 5 sisters in a two-room house on “Snake Creek.” Maxine was proud to have been a star player on the Varsity Women’s Basketball Team for Bixby High School, where she was the first of her siblings to earn a High School Diploma.
In 1948, she met and married her husband of 52 years, Mack H. Willis, after only one official date. Maxine was a strong, hardworking, and loving woman who was known to work three jobs to help support the six children they had together. She enjoyed working at Cashion Circle K, the United States (Tolleson) Postal Service, as well as owning and operating the Willis Greyhound Racing Kennel. A member of the National Greyhound Association, she was very successful raising, training, and racing greyhounds, and she had many winning greyhounds at Black Canyon, Apache Junction, and Phoenix Greyhound Parks. She enjoyed all of her jobs, because she truly loved all people, and she never met a stranger. Her heart, home, and pocketbook were consistently open to anyone who needed a hot meal or a warm bed. She was a member of the Tolleson Homemakers Club, and she took great pleasure in volunteering with them as well. Maxine reluctantly retired from racing in 2005, and she moved from her Tolleson farm to a suburban neighborhood in Goodyear. Retirement initially was a bit too slow for her liking, however, she began to enjoy it, especially the time she spent with family and friends in all areas of the country. Her all-time favorite pastime was playing Skip-bo with her best friend of sixty years, Iva Del “Ike” Albo. Maxine had a competitive nature, and the two had many heated battles, sometimes ending when one or the other would throw the cards away! Maxine also had a passion for all sports watching almost every televised game of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals, and the Phoenix Suns.
She truly loved life, and she lived it well. Her vivacious personality was sprinkled with just enough sassiness to keep everyone entertained. Her beautiful, infectious smile radiated her warmth and kindness. She encouraged her children and grandchildren with this advice: “Smile at everyone you see today, because it may be the only smile they get.” Maxine had the unique ability to make every single person feel important, loved, and special. She leaves behind a legacy of strength, courage, character, faith, and love etched into the minds and hearts of those who knew her best.
Maxine was preceded in death by her parents, her four sisters, Neva, Sybil, Nora, and Lucy, and her two brothers, Erbie and Joe. She is survived by her six children, Marion R. (Cara) Willis, Gary M. (Sharon) Willis, Brenda (Ted) Greene, Zelma Stressman, Marie (Derek) Alves, and Stephanie (Daniel) Romero, 21 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 13, 2019, at noon at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ. Memorial contributions may be made in her honor to Arizona Adopt-A-Greyhound, Inc.