Cover photo for Elijah Mckay Willis's Obituary
Elijah Mckay Willis Profile Photo
1934 Elijah 2023

Elijah Mckay Willis

September 30, 1934 — February 19, 2023

Elijah McKay Willis was reunited with his beloved Ruby Jean on February 19, 2023. He died peacefully in the home he built 43 years earlier in Laketown, Utah. He epitomized charity and goodness, and lived a life full of service to his family, church, country, and community.

McKay was born in Round Valley, Utah on September 30, 1934. He was the second of four sons born to Elijah C. and Norma Willis. Growing up on his parent’s ranch, McKay developed an unparalleled work ethic, which became an integral and lifelong personal characteristic.

After McKay graduated from North Rich High School in 1952, he enrolled in the ROTC at Utah State University. He graduated in 1956 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force with an Industrial Arts Degree. While attending USU, he married his high school sweetheart Ruby Jean Johnson. They were married in the Logan Temple on June 8, 1956 and shared 65 years together in service to their fellowmen.

McKay and Jean were blessed with 4 children: Tom, Tamra, Tracy, and Thad. Their family spent the next 21 years traveling the world, necessitated by McKay’s work as a military officer. During his career in the Air Force, McKay spent time working on highly classified projects, including specific assignments on the SR 71 and U2 Planes. In total, McKay was deployed over seven years, including 18 months serving in the Vietnam War.

After retiring, McKay returned to Utah and began a second career teaching at North Rich Elementary School, where he served as a beloved 5th grade teacher. Over the years, his students were treated to history at the hands of a gifted storyteller and were enlightened with a global perspective as a result of his love of geography and world affairs. He was the “Commander-in-Chief”of the Laketown Cemetery, where he devoted 36 years to meticulously caring for the final resting place of those who had gone ahead. McKay devoted 19 years as Mayor of Laketown, implementing an enduring vision to help his hometown grow and thrive for generations to come. He also spent 16 years as a volunteer EMT. When the pager interrupted, McKay was off to render aid. With his frequent trips between Logan and Laketown, he developed his unique skill of traversing Logan Canyon without the need to actually see the road.

McKay was meticulous in whatever endeavor he took on. He recorded and reported the weather conditions in Laketown every day for over 40 years -never missing an evening deadline. Anyone visiting the Willis household would have observed McKay sitting at the kitchen table, checking the temperature, and verbally recording the conditions. McKay’s years of dedicated service were recognized in 2022 when he received the distinguished Award of Excellence from the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association.

McKay’s faithfulness in the Kingdom of God was unwavering. He served his church community in many roles, always taking his assignments seriously and striving to “magnify his calling”. He was the first one to volunteer and the last one to leave a service engagement. At age 26, McKay was called to serve as Branch President in Holland, faithfully serving while advancing his career and helping to raise his young children. McKay also served as the Bishop in Warner Robins, Georgia. He dearly loved the people of his congregation, developing relationships and impacting lives for many years after he moved away. McKay spent 10 years serving in the temple as an ordinance worker. He loved the early morning Saturday shift and would get up at 2:00 a.m. to drive to Logan, no matter how cold or snowy. McKay was a humble man, never seeking to be in charge but stepping up when asked. This humility was best exemplified by his final calling, an Usher in his hometown Laketown Ward, where he greeted everyone on Sunday morning with a warm handshake and smile.

Anyone lucky enough to spend time at the Willis home knew about McKay’s green thumb. His lawn was immaculate, and his garden somehow never had any weeds. McKay and Jean loved to share with their neighbors the bounty from the garden, resulting from their care.

McKay was rarely seen sitting down or engaging in leisure activities. There was always work to be done, a project to be finished, or a person who needed a hand. On the rare occasion that he was found in a chair, he always had a book in his hand. He loved learning (especially about history or geography) and sharing his knowledge with friends and family. His favorite recreation, however, was playing golf. He would play as soon as the snow was off the green and in the wee hours of the morning. And happily, after the Resurrection, “that darn right hand” will be all better, most likely shaving 6 or 7 shots off his rounds in the eternities.

McKay was a gentle and kind man. He loved his family and treated them with nothing but nurturing kindness. He also had a tender spot for animals, especially his dogs and beloved cat Tommy. His grandkids and great-grandkids loved their Pa, and he loved them. He never missed an opportunity to teach them and show his love through story-telling. His humor kept them all laughing, a true tease with a nickname for everyone.

McKay Willis is preceded in death by his first and only love Ruby Jean, his parents, 3 brothers, and 2 grandchildren. He is survived by his children Tom (Patty), Tamra (Scott), Tracy (Sam), and Thad (Melissa), 15 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren. “So anyway…”

Funeral services to honor McKay will be held on Saturday, March 4 at the Laketown LDS Church at 1:00. Visitation will be held that morning beginning at 11:00 am. Services will be under the direction of Allen-Hall Mortuary, Logan, Utah. To attend virtually, a zoom link will be provided via Allen-Hall Mortuary online at . In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Humanitarian Fund of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Funeral services will be broadcast live at
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Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, March 4, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)

Church of Jesus Christ LDS

115 S 100 E St, Laketown, UT 84038

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Laketown Cemetery

, Laketown, UT 84038

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