Obituaries & Tributes

Karin Marie Willis 

Oct. 25, 1952 — Feb. 11, 2023

Karin Marie Willis was born on Oct. 25, 1952 to Adolph “Rudy” and Viola Adame in Visalia, Calif. She was one of four children. 

She met the love of her life, James “Kelly” Willis, when she was 11 years old. The two eventually became inseparable, enjoying many adventures camping and traveling across the state of California and beyond. They spent a year together in San Francisco experiencing big city life. 

In 1978, Karin and Kelly wed in the San Joaquin Valley in central California with their beloved dog, Happy, by their side. A year later, the couple moved to Cottage Grove after visiting friends and falling in love with the Pacific Northwest. They spent the first two years enjoying life in a yurt that they built by hand, with the help of their beloved friends. 

Karin loved entertaining both family and friends. Hospitality was one of the many gifts she shared with her loved ones. Karin began her career in education as a teaching assistant in Cottage Grove in the early ‘80s.

In 1983, Karin and Kelly welcomed their daughter, Treva. Soon thereafter, the family moved back to Karin and Kelly’s hometown and later welcomed their son, Taylor in 1989. 

Karin continued her education at Fresno State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree and began her primary school teaching career in Earlimart, Calif. In 1994, the family returned to Cottage Grove where Karin continued teaching at Delight Valley and Dorena Elementary Schools until her retirement in 2014. 

Karin and Kelly were members of Calvary Chapel Church in Cottage Grove. Those who knew Karin would describe her as having a servant’s heart while her faith was her guiding light.  She cared deeply for those close to her and provided care for family and friends everyday, as well as in their times of need. She served humbly, not looking for recognition. 

She was an avid gardener who loved her chickens, ducks and her beloved cat, Jasper. She always had her hands in an art project or her garden. Her creativity was endless and her crafts were works of art. 

Karin took up fishing in more recent years. She always had her fishing pole in her car ready to drop a line at a moment’s notice. Between her fishing and gardening, her freezers were overflowing. Legend has it she has borrowed freezer space all across town to store her fresh catches and bounty of fruits and vegetables. 

She lived her life committed to her health and that of her family. Karin embraced her Mexican culture’s love of vibrant colors and incorporated every color of the rainbow in the nutritious meals she provided for her loved ones.  Everything from her wardrobe to her greenhouse was a representation of her colorful and creative spirit. Karin’s family was her world. Her nurturing ways were felt by so many. She had limitless love for her family and friends. 

On Feb. 11, 2023, Karin suffered a sudden and catastrophic brain bleed. She ultimately passed away a short time later in the arms of her loved ones. She died a faithful servant to the Lord, committed to living in obedience to God. She is preceded in death by her parents, Rudy and Viola, her sisters Anna Benson and Kathryn Adame, her father-in-law Jack Willis, her brothers-in-law Pat Willis and Bill Benson, and her niece Alessandra Adame. 

She is survived by Kelly, her husband of 44 years; her daughter Treva Willis and her partner Chelsea Morrisey; her son Taylor Willis and his wife Hawley; her brother Robert Adame; her mother-in-law Novella Willis; her brother-in-law Greg Willis and his wife Lisa; and her extended family.  

A celebration of life memorial will be held March 4 at 11 a.m. at Calvary Chapel in Cottage Grove. Arrangements by Smith-Lund-Mills Funeral Chapel and Crematorium.

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