On September 2, 2017, Anne Lee Wright Dawson Thompson Willis, 92, of Hopewell Junction, NY and formerly of Norfolk, VA, passed on September 1, 2017 at Vassar Brothers Medical Center. Mrs. Willis was the widow of two WWII veterans, US Navy Veteran Walter Willis and US Army Veteran Robert E. Thompson.

Born in Pasquatank County, North Carolina on July 25, 1925, she was the daughter of Jose Wright and Annie Reid. She was raised and nurtured by her mom, Nurse Annie Reid and her husband, Tool and Dye Maker for the US Navy Yard, Elijah Dawson.

Young Anne had worked as a Ship Welder in the US Navy Yard in Norfolk, VA; became a “cracker jack” Insurance Agent for NC Mutual. Subsequently, she worked as a Real Estate Manager for Glaser & Glaser in the Bronx; and as an Apartment Building Landlord. In the 1980s, she was the owner of 3 medallion cabs with NYC Yellow Cabs. Mrs. Anne Willis, also worked for the United States Postal Service. She then continued her career as a Dental Hygienist.

As a Highbridge Bronx NY resident, she served her community as a Bronx Neighborhood Community Activist and a Bronx District 9 Community School Board Member. She advocated and fought for, and helped organize for “Parent Involvement” in education, and "Community Control of Schools” with Loretta Y. Jones, Fred Brown, Jerome Greene,(deceased), and Aurelia Greene.

Mrs. Willis also fought for free lunch in schools, and free child care. Along with Loretta Y. Jones and neighbors they eventually established the licensed, Highbridge Community Pre-School, and served on the Board of Directors. Their efforts spiraled into licensed neighborhood government supported day care centers.

Mrs. Willis was a member of the New Testament Church in Elizabeth City, NC. She always enjoyed worshipping God, cooking, feeding the kids, her cats and plants, traveling, and taking the kids for long rides in her yellow Eldorado Cadillac, and eating Bon bons, sharing good jokes with family and friends,. Mrs. Willis always found time to support single moms with encouragement, shelter finances and guidance for continuing their education, and advised young women about women's health issues. She would go out of her way to help kids get off the street, get back with their parents or find good homes for them, often took families into her home, though this was not her profession. If you needed a job, she would find one for you.

Anne Willis was a great lady, elegant, highly respected, a wonderful awe inspiring mom, the funniest, best buddy ever, who loved Jesus, her children, enjoyed family, good music, live performances, soap operas, fashions, and was uniquely endowed, beautifully, physically fit. She was a fashionista, a gorgeous woman. She was often described as “something else.” As mother, sister friend, confidant, advocate, role model, “drop dead gorgeous,” she was a masterful talent at mincing (speaking with a soft delicate voice that is musical and feminine,). She walked with exquisite grace, authority and beauty. She was adored by everyone. Until her last days her aura was still captivating others.

Mrs. Willis was predeceased by; her husbands, US Navy Veteran Walter Willis, US Army Veteran Robert Thompson; her grandson, Vincent Willis; her sisters, Marian Etheridge and Elizabeth White; her brothers, Joshua Dawson, Henry Dawson, Elijah Dawson, James Dawson US Navy Veterans; the Johnson brothers, her uncles; her cousins Gertrude Turner, and her 2 sisters, Melinda and Meecy, US Army Veteran, Ben Jackson, his son, Emmanuel Jackson, Dorothy Shannon and Robin Shannon Whittle.

Mrs. Anne Willis is survived by her children and their spouses, Marshall and Nettie Willis of Allentown, PA, Russell Willis of New York City, Sherri Willis of Tampa Florida, and Cassandra Willis Bowman and Bernard B.H. Bowman of Hopewell Junction NY; her grandchildren, Jason Whittle of NYC, Jerod Willis and Angelica Willis of Wappingers Falls, NY and Joanna Willis of Wappingers Falls NY; US Army Active Reserve, National Guard Terrance E. Bowman and US Army Veteran, Sgt. John B. Bowman of Hopewell Jct NY;her great-granddaughter, Mya Willis of Tennessee;her nephews and their wives, Wayland and Sandra Etheridge, Ronald and Clarabelle Etheridge of Norfolk VA., Marla Etheridge and Flip Etheridge of Norfolk VA and US Air Force Pilot, Veteran, David Etheridge and his family of Portland Oregon; and her niece, Jacqueline Corprew Thornton and her daughter; cousins, Sharon Jackson, Linda Jackson, and Cynthia Jackson of Florida; her nieces and nephews Denise Dawson, Carol Dawson, Abigail Dawson, John Dawson, James Dawson, Alphonso Dawson, and Larry Dawson of Hawaii. friends Loretta Y. Jones, of NYC, Susan Greene of New Jersey and Frances Wallace of Norfolk VA.

A graveside service will be held on Wednesday, September 6, 2017, at 11am at Freedom Plains Cemetery, NY.

More From Hudson Valley Post