Henry R. Willis Jr
Henry R. Willis Jr was born July 11, 1962, in St. Louis, MO to Henry R. Willis Sr. and Gloretha Willis. He is the third of six children born in this union. Reared in the Baptist Church during childhood until this day @ Rising Star M.B. Church. Education received in the St. Louis public school system, graduating from Cleveland High, May 1980. Upon completion of high school, an appointment was received to the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO. Military instilled principles of discipline, morals, and respect which later became an intricate part of life for the journey that lies ahead of me. The military allowed travel to various parts of the world to include Turkey, Spain, Germany, and Italy. After military duty I returned to civilian life and saw the need of the black youth within various communities and volunteered with operation teamwork under the leadership of Flint Fowler but realizing that our kids needed more, I worked with Judge Jimmy Edwards and established one of the first (NAB) Neighborhood Accountability Boards in the West End of St. Louis City. The concept was to have youths that were in the juvenile system to be tried by a group of their peers from their neighborhoods in which they lived. This concept is now being used by inner cities throughout the U.S.
May 1999 I became a member of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of MO serving my local lodge and all executive positions leading up to Most Worshipful Grand Master of the state of MO which proved to be most rewarding in the areas of assisting our youth groups which traveled to Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Alabama. Tn. And AL. proved to be most interesting as they were allowed to see how our ancestors lived during tumultuous times in history and awakened their senses on sacrifices that were made just for the right to vote. I shall be forever grateful to the sisters of the Order of the Eastern Star for the unwavering support during my tenure. Many other lessons were learned but that particular one stands out. March 2018, I was elected to serve as President of the Midwest Regional Conference of Grand Masters and Masons which encompasses eleven Midwestern states under the banner of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Numerous awards were received to include National Phylaxis Society (cover photo) which is the research historical arm of Prince Hall Masonry, Honorary Grand Master of 11 Jurisdictions, resolutions from Board of Alderman and State Senate. One of the fondest moments occurred on July 2, 2017 when the Grand Masters of Illinois, Missouri along with mayors of East St. Louis and St. Louis joined with the East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission and Cultural Initiative for the Centennial Commemoration service and proceeded to the middle of the Eads Bridge for the 1ooth year anniversary of the East St. Louis race riots.
Lastly, I have been blessed with love and support from my wonderful family to include Winona Willis wife of 28 years and solid rock, 3 sons Mark, Henry III, and Joseph. Amenti Willis (daughter) seven beautiful grandchildren