Celebration of Life
In honour of Albert and Sean Willis
Located at: The Bracebridge Hall 17A Manitoba Street, Bracebridge
When: Sunday, August 28th 2022 12:00pm-3:00pm
Dear family and friends, please help us honour and celebrate the incredible lives of Al and Sean through shared memories, music and stories. Their warm smiles and contagious laughter will be greatly missed and we hope you can join us in sharing a funny story, or favourite memory as we fondly look back at all they brought into our lives.
It is with heaviness of heart we announce the passing of Al (Butch) after fighting a yearlong battle with cancer. Al is survived by his wife and best friend Mary (nee Millward) of 43 years, sons Jason (Christine) and Adam (Sabrina) grandchildren, Olivia, Mya, Dante and Mia and his sister Sandra Garvey. Predeceased by his son Sean (November 16, 2021) Albert was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. He will be greatly missed by his family, and all who knew him through his business and community.
Al grew up in the city of Toronto, where, with his closest friend Rod Nemecek, spent their youth playing a myriad of sports, with hockey being their favourite and always rooting for their hometown Maple Leafs. Al’s love of the game saw him compete as high as Junior A, but even after those days had passed, Al and Rod’s shared love of the city and sports strengthened a friendship that has traversed six and a half decades. Although Al loved the city, and all the memories and friendships built there, his life pulled him in another direction, and it was the town of Bracebridge, that he ended up calling home for the past 35 years.
It was here with his wife Mary that they put down roots and raised their three boys; instilling in them the values of family, love, hard work and loyalty. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, and a fresh honest approach to business, Al was always one to lead by example; armed with little more than a dream, unwavering determination, and an incredible work ethic, he started his own retail window company and for over 30 years served, supported, and gave back to his community.
It was through his “little window shop” that Al touched so many lives. Whether he was running events or emceeing fundraisers, volunteering his time with the Lion’s Club and Legion, coaching local sports clubs, or writing his business advice articles in the local papers, Al always demonstrated his commitment to putting people first and forming bonds and friendships with everyone he met.
Through his devotion to helping others with their problems big or small, being there for them mentally or physically, or maybe just helping them find their smile again - we could always see just how big a heart Al had; and if his action didn’t show it, he could always be counted on to let you know with his words.
It’s no secret that Al was a bit of a talker, and if anyone could turn a quick chat into an afternoon long conversation, it was him. Whether you were in the grocery store, at a sporting event, or in the driveway ready to head out, he always found time for everyone in his life. Although there were times those long chats felt well… exactly that, long. It really was in those moments that people got to know him; he would genuinely ask questions about you, share personal stories, or just give that pertinent bit of advice. It was in these moments we got to see someone who was genuine, sincere and who truly cared about others.
It was that sincerity, combined with his ability to read people and what might best be described as an “Al”-a-carte, sense of humour, that simply resonated with those around him. Al was a man who embodied the “Dad joke”, he dazzled with impressions and used quick wit to crack jokes and always had those around him smiling, laughing, and feeling welcomed in any setting. Whether you were in his shop for the first-time buying windows, having a coffee with him downtown or spending the afternoon on the golf course, he would always have a smile, a joke, or some poignant words of wisdom for you.
He left us with so many gems to remind us of him, but as we grieve our loss and work through this tough time there is one “Al-ism” that may mean more now than ever - “Where there’s a Willis, there’s a way!” And for you Mr. Willis, we will do just that, continue to find a way.
To Albert: You devoted your life to your family and ensuring their happiness, your incredible devotion as a husband and father was recognized and appreciated more than you could have ever known. You are deeply loved and will be greatly missed. The impact you had on your family and everyone around you was immense. You will live on in our hearts and will never be forgotten.
A celebration of life will be held at a date that is yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to local charities in need.