John Willits Jr.

John McGregor Willits Jr.

May 31, 1936 – May 15, 2015

Once there was a man who planted more than 50,000 trees. And that’s not all he did; you could say he planted foresters and surveyors too, as part of his 27 year teaching career at Peninsula College. As one of his former students noted, “The best debts are those we can never fully repay, but

??spend our lives happily trying… I hope to continue repaying my debt to you by spending my time in worthwhile causes to safeguard worthy people and worthy places.”

John was born in Crystal Falls, Michigan, the fourth of six children. He grew up loving the outdoors, with a lot of freedom to fish, explore, and hunt waterfowl. He had a lifelong series of dogs, mostly Labs, who were his buddies and partners.

Following that theme, he earned a Bachelor of Science (with Honors) in Forest Management from Michigan State University in 1958 and a Master’s Degree in Forest Management from the University of Washington in 1961.

His focus remained remarkably true throughout his life. It was expressed in his love of hunting, his passion for protecting habitat, and his active involvement in conservation. He strongly supported the habitat preservation work of Ducks Unlimited. He was a very active supporter and participant in the work of the North Olympic Land Trust. At the time of his death, he was still involved in protection of critical habitat properties in the Lower Dungeness Basin. This vision could result in a corridor of protected wetlands from the mouth of the Dungeness River to Graysmarsh.

John was a man who led by example. He didn’t waste words. He was quiet in conversation and in meetings. The result was that when he spoke, people listened. And John was funny! He had a dry, subtle wit that took people by surprise and made them laugh. Everyone who knew him has a favorite John story.

Family and friends knew John as a kind and generous man. He didn’t sweat the small stuff. He allowed people to be who they are and accepted them that way, and we all loved him for it.

John was preceded in death by his parents John McGregor Willits Sr. and Lillian Anderson Willits; first wife Donna Willits; daughter Kristine Fairbanks; and sister Jane Willits.

He is survived by his wife Patricia Willits of Port Angeles, Washington; son John (BethAnn) McGregor Willits III of North Bend, Washington; son-in-law Brian Fairbanks of Sedro Woolley, Washington; mother-in-law Helen Armstrong of Houston, Texas; sister Anne (John) Masterson of Bend, Oregon; sister Judy Sabo of West Seattle; brother Ward (Rita) Willits of Olympia, Washington; sister Caroline Peters of McLean, Virginia; grandchildren Joel (Lynn) Willits of Issaquah, Washington; Kelsey Willits of Seattle; Ryan Willits of Grants Pass, Oregon; and Whitney Fairbanks of Port Angeles; great grandchildren Avery and Addison Willits of Issaquah, Washington and many nieces and nephews.

John died suddenly at home from a heart attack. His wife Pat and his dog Maverick were at his side.

A celebration of John’s life will be held at the Port Angeles Senior Center June 7, 2015 from 2:00 P.M. until 4:00 P.M.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Ducks Unlimited, One Waterfowl Way, Memphis, Tennessee 38120 or North Olympic Land Trust, 104 N. Laurel Street, Suite 104 Port Angeles, WA 98362.