Gayle Odessa Willis James | News, sports, jobs


Gayle Odessa Willis James died on October 16, 2021 at the William E Christofferson Salt Lake Veteran’s Home. Gayle was born on Leap Day on February 29, 1924 in Los Angeles, California, to Walter Gordon and Ivie Pearl Willis. Gayle served faithfully in the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service Program 1944-1946).

Gayle grew up in Provo, Utah and spent time in Draper and St. George, Utah, as well as in San Francisco and Grass Valley, California.

Gayle graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree specializing in English Literature and later taught at Utah Valley Community College. Gayle was also a selfless caretaker to her parents Walter and Ivie for many years. We are all very grateful for the time and patience Gayle showed her parents.

Gayle was a lover of life and stayed active throughout her 97 years! She was a passionate reader, nature lover and always up to date and actively informed about current events. Gayle was an independent woman and in many ways ahead of her time. Gayle enjoyed reading, attending performing arts events, listening to classical jazz, piano and guitar, and practicing tai chi.

Gayle married John A. James at Capital Reef in 1996 at a beautiful and spiritual sunrise ceremony and lived together in Grass Valley, California until John’s death in 2015. Gayle and John met in San Francisco in 1952 and later came back together thanks to a mutual friend who brings them back together. Gayle has had many close friends and a select family throughout her life.

Gayle preceded her husband John James in death; Brother Paul F. Willis and parents; Walter and Ivie Willis. Gayle leaves behind her brother Richard Stuart Willis and his wife Barbara; and her nieces and nephews David Willis (Elaine), Gordon Willis (Susan), Michael Willis, Kevin Willis, Lorena Foster (Stuart) and Jennifer Willis-Blomquist (Rodney).

A grave memorial service will be held at the Wasatch Lawn Memorial in Millcreek on Saturday, November 13th at 11:00 AM. Friends and family are welcome.

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