William H. Willis Jr.

GREENWICH, CONN. — William H. Willis Jr., a longtime resident of Greenwich, died at his home on Sunday, May 11. He was born in Harrisburg, Pa., on Dec. 19, 1927, the son of William H. Willis and Elizabeth Keferstein Willis. Mr. Willis is survived by his wife, Pauline, their daughter, Wendell Willis Livingston and son-in-law, Tom of Rowayton, Conn., their sons, Christopher H. Willis, and daughter-in-law, Cindy of New Canaan, Conn., and Gregory T. Willis and daughter-in-law, Lois of Darien, Conn. He is also survived by his seven grandchildren: Ian, Hilary, and Clare Livingston, Caroline and George Willis, and Taylor and Malcolm Willis, as well as by three nieces and their families. A sister, Elizabeth Willis Reid, and a brother, L. Clayton Willis, predeceased him.

Mr. Willis graduated from St. Paul’s School, Concord, N.H., in 1945 and from Yale University, Class of 1949. He had a great passion and love for all kinds of music and sang with the St. Paul’s School Choir, the Yale Glee Club, the Yale University Glee Club of New York, the National Collegiate Chorale in Washington, D.C., and, more recently, the Yale Alumni Chorus.

In 1950-52, he served in the 301st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Unit of the U.S. Army in Fort Riley, Kansas, and with the Psychological Warfare Unit in Heidelberg, Germany, at the time of the partition of the war countries under the U.S. high commissioner. Mr. Willis and Gates Davison led a scientific expedition to Madagascar for the American Museum of Natural History in 1953.

Mr. Willis was a well-recognized leader in executive search. He founded William Willis Worldwide with offices in New York and Greenwich. Active internationally, he was the Founding Chairman of the World Search Group, a strategic alliance of 30 independent search firms in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Early in his career, he was in industry with AMF and Owens Corning Fiberglas.

In 1987, Mr. Willis traveled to the People’s Republic of China for the People to People International Delegation on Grain Processing. In 1991, the Governor of Connecticut appointed him to the Commission on Compensation of Elected Officials.

Active in civic and community service, for 18 years Mr. Willis was national treasurer and a director of Girls, Incorporated (formerly Girls Clubs of America) and also served on the Human Resources Committee of the YMCA of Greater New York. Other civic commitments included the Capital Campaign for Yale, the Greenwich Health Association, and the Greenwich Hospital Association.

Mr. Willis was a communicant of St. Barnabas Church of Greenwich for 50 years and had been a member of its vestry and choir.

A former governor of The Field Club of Greenwich, in 1978 he founded its popular Willis Lecture series. In 2010, he was granted a rare honorary membership to the club for his many contributions over the years. An active sportsman, he enjoyed tennis, squash and golf, as well as sailing and boating with his family off the coast of Mount Desert Island. Mr. Willis was also a former governor of The Harbor Club and Seal Harbor Yacht Club of Seal Harbor. He was a longtime member of the Racquet and Tennis Club in New York.

Beloved by family and friends in many generations, Mr. Willis was especially admired for his integrity, his sense of loyalty, and his dry wit and wonderful sense of humor.

Services took place in Connecticut last month. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to either the Girls Club, Inc. or to the Yale Alumni Chorus Foundation. To leave an online condolence please visit www.leopgallaghergreenwich.com.

Know when to pay your respects.