November 16, 2023

LIBERAL- Willis Strong passed away on November 14, 2023, at Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, Kan. He had been receiving treatments the past three years for Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Willis was born September 29, 1938, to the late Don and Hope Strong, west of Mitchell, SD. He lived there nine years before moving to Missouri in 1947 with his parents. Willis attended El Dorado Springs High School and graduated in 1956.

He worked at the El Dorado Springs Sun before being drafted into the service where he served in Germany from 1961-1963 for the US Army. Upon returning home he went back to work at the El Dorado Springs Sun. Willis later went to work at Witt Printing and soon after was introduced to his wife Billy. They married on May 27, 1966, in El Dorado Springs. They lived in El Dorado Springs until 1967, at which time they moved to Redfield, Kan. where he took a job at the Fort Scott Tribune as a Linotype operator for the daily paper.

In December of 1975 he moved to Liberal when they purchased the Liberal News. They operated the paper for almost 11 years as one of the last letterpress newspapers before converting it to offset and then selling it in September of 1986. After selling the paper Willis went to work at the Nevada Habilitation Center in Nevada, Mo. He retired from there in 2008 after 20 years.

While working in Nevada he developed a passion for planting flowers. After work, or on days off, he could be found in the garden tending to his gladiolas. Oh, did he have many and he could tell you all the colors and kinds. If it wasn’t glads, he also planted cannas and hostas.

Later on he raised chickens at his son’s farm east of town for several years. He loved raising the chickens with wife Billy and taking care of them.

In retirement he kept busy volunteering with the senior citizens dinners in Liberal, Barton County Historical Society in Lamar and the Civic Group in Liberal, where he helped annually with the Prairie Day Festival. He also was part of the American Legion and enjoyed his passion of writing and taking pictures. He could be found with Billy at events taking pictures and never went anywhere without his notebook and pen to capture his notes. He spent many hours sitting at his computer, writing articles or his weekly column for the Lamar Democrat. Many people enjoyed his column and he wrote it each week until the last few months.

Willis was a member of the First Baptist Church in Liberal and active in many events. He will be greatly missed by all for his caring ways, gift of gab (never met a stranger) and his humor.

Survivors include his wife Billy Strong of Liberal; daughter, Carol Strong of Corning, NY; granddaughters Isabella and Victoria and life long friend Lori Beckwith. He is also survived by a sister, Shirley Fletcher of Joplin and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his son Darrell Strong, his parents, three brothers and one sister.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in care of Konantz Warden Funeral Home to the First Christian Church in Liberal or the Barton County Senior Center.

The family will receive visitors on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the funeral home. A funeral service will be held at Konantz Warden Funeral Home on Monday, Nov. 20, 1 p.m. Burial will follow in Liberal City Cemetery.

The obituary may be viewed and condolences sent online at www.konantzwarden.com.