Nature 16


Robbie "Dee Dee" Willis

January 20, 1938 ~ April 3, 2018 (age 80)
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Robbie “Dee Dee” Willis, 80, of Morehead City, passed away Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at the Crystal Coast Hospice House.

Her funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at First United Methodist Church in Morehead City, officiated by Reverend Powell Osteen. Interment will follow at Bayview Cemetery.

Robbie was a wonderful woman who was loved, is missed, and will always be cherished.  “Dee Dee” as she was called by everyone was an amazing wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, and teller of jokes.

Robbie’s story started on January 20, 1938, the second daughter to George Roy and Lorna McGinnis Hinton in Buckhorn, North Carolina (Wilson County). In grade school, her mother passed away and her father remarried Dorothy Smith, who raised Anne, Robbie and Lynda as her own. Later, a fourth daughter, Mary Haywood, completed their family. A graduate of Rock Ridge School, she made many lifelong friends and continued to attend her class reunions. She was a devoted member of Buckhorn United Methodist Church, where she still attended homecomings. She then went on to attend East Carolina Teachers College (ECTC) in Greenville, where she met the love of her life, R.E. Willis. Robbie and R.E. spent many hardworking years raising their three beautiful daughters, Jodie, Jamie, and Julie and one handsome son, Russell in Morehead City. Through the course of their marriage, they worked to develop the family construction business, Carteret Septic Tank. Robbie spent many tireless hours feeding families and friends at Mrs. Willis’ Restaurant (where good friends meet to eat).

She fiercely loved children and had a need to ensure that all children and all people felt safe and comfortable.  Whether in her home, at the grocery store, or at Mrs. Willis’, her presence drew everyone in and created a village where everyone knew they would be loved and comforted. Robbie’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were the love of her life. Her favorite people call her Dee Dee, so that became her name. Time spent at Dee Dee’s house was special for everyone. She was constantly adding on space to her house to make room for additional family members and anyone who wanted to spend time at her home. Dee Dee made an impact on so many people, who say that their childhood memories with her were so special.

Dee Dee was an incredible lady who meant so much to generations of Morehead City families.She was renowned for her cooking skills; her squash casserole, collards, and strawberry pudding were always a favorite to everyone who loved eating at Mrs. Willis’. Each of her grandchildren still compete to determine who can make “the best” scrambled eggs, just like Dee Dee. 

It was impossible to be in a bad mood around Dee Dee, even when her family and friends tried to be grouchy, she had a perfect way of lightening the mood in any situation. She had an unbelievable sense of humor and was adored for her wit and joke-telling expertise. She could often be found retrieving a fax with a new story or joke to add to her collection. Although she is remembered for her love, culinary skills, and humor, we will forever remember her natural gift of inclusion to all mankind.  She emulated Jesus by using her words and actions to touch people that needed it the most.  She did not need permission to reach out and lend a hand to anyone that needed compassion and comfort. Dee Dee had a God given gift that she used to bring people together and she often healed people just by giving them her unconditional love.

Dee Dee’s example of faith and simple kindness has been passed down to countless individuals who will continue her legacy of loving all with an open heart, a funny joke, and a piece of delicious strawberry pudding. 

Dee Dee’s love for the Carolina Tarheels was evident every time you drove up to her home.  The yard was bedazzled in all sorts of Carolina signs and flags. She always had plants on her porch that she meticulously managed and kept her bird feeders filled. Her home was the most comfortable place in the world and everyone liked going home to Dee Dee’s. 

Dee Dee fought a long battle with Alzheimer’s and was cared for and loved by very special caregivers and sitters, allowing her to spend many more years in the comforts of her home (her favorite place). In her last weeks, the Crystal Coast Hospice House provided endless love and support to DeeDee and her family until she peacefully passed.

Dee Dee is now resting with R.E and Ace, the beloved family dog. She is looking at a perfect Carolina Blue sky, enjoying every moment of telling jokes to the crowd that is already gathered. As we continue to celebrate our memories and our loss, we know that she is feeling His perfect love in her “Home Home”.

She is survived by her daughters, Jodie Willis-Ballou and husband, Robbie Webb, of Morehead City, Jamie Willis-Ballou and husband, Danny, of Morehead City, Julie Willis-Moore and husband, John, of Morehead City; son, Russell E. Willis, III and wife, Mary Kesel-Willis, of Newport; sisters, Lynda Hinton Smith of Columbia, MO, Mary Hinton Winslow and husband, Don, of Buckhorn, NC; grandchildren, Brie Helms and husband, DJ, Jordan Ballou, Ali Ballou, Brooke South and husband, Josh, Shelby Moore, Cameron Ballou and Jamie Marion, Worth Ballou and Samantha, Kelsey Willis, Ridge Willis, Robb Webb and wife, Maria and Allison Galvan and husband, Eddie; great-grandchildren, Emery Marion, Emmelyn Ballou, Kinley South, Jade Hardy and Aylah Marie Ballou; and many loving cousins, nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Russell Eldridge “R.E.” Willis, Jr.; parents, George and Dorothy Hinton; mother, Lorna Marie Hinton; sister, Anne Duffus.

Family will receive friends from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Saturday, April 7, 2018 at First United Methodist Church in Morehead City.

Flowers are welcome, or memorials can be sent to the Children’s Ministry of First United Methodist Church at 900 Arendell St., Morehead City, NC 28557, Carteret Community Theater - LeRae Kesel Scholarship at 1311 Arendell St., Morehead City, NC 28557, Storehouse Food Pantry at 3114 Bridges St. (former Mrs. Willis restaurant) Morehead City, NC 28557, Miracles in Motion Performing Arts Center at  3118 Bridges St, Morehead City, NC 28557, Crystal Coast Hospice House at 100 Big Rock Weigh, Newport, NC 28570, or the Elks Lodge at Post Office Box 202, Morehead City, NC 28557.

Online condolences may be made at

Arrangements are by Munden Funeral Home and Crematory, Morehead City, NC. 

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