Milton Willis Jr., 74, of Chester

Milton A. Willis Jr., 74, of Chester, passed away peacefully on June 1, 2022, at home with his loving wife and family by his side.

Milton was born March 17, 1948 in Newport to Milton and Margaret (Cota) Willis. He graduated from North Troy High School in 1966 and immediately started to work for his Uncle Floyd, who taught Milt the carpentry trade for many years. Eventually Milt went on to own and operate his own business in the North Troy area for several years. Milt believed in giving back to the community and became a member of the North Troy Volunteer Fire Department, and was one of the founders of the Missisquoi Valley Ambulance Service.

Milt joined the North Troy American Legion Post 28, serving as commander for many years It was here that Milt discovered his true life passion of advocating for fellow veterans. Milt held many positions in the American Legion from the local post, the American Legion Department of Vermont and at the national level.

During his tenure as department commander, he appointed himself as department service officer, a position he held for the next 37 years, until his retirement in 2021. During those 37 years, Milt helped thousands of veterans at the VA and quickly gained respect as chairman of the Department Legislative Committee. While in this position, he lobbied endlessly for U.S. veterans and his colleagues nationwide. Milt became the “go-to service officer” for colleagues across the nation, and was elected president of the Department Service Officers for two years.

Milt chaired many committees at the department level, but was most proud of his Department Legislative chairmanship. During this time, he tirelessly lobbied and was instrumental in the creation of national legislation allowing veterans throughout the United States to be better served. Milt collaborated with many dignitaries, including U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, who Milt considered close and personal friends.

Milt also held chairmanships at the national level consisting of Alt. National Executive Committee, the Naval Affairs Committee, National Executive Committee, member of the Commission on Children & Youth Liaison Committee, vice chair of the Distinguished Guests Committee, Region 1 member on the Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission, Region 1 member, vice chairman and chairman of the Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission, and a member of the Veterans Benefits Committee.

Family meant everything to Junior (as he was known by family). He was only a phone call away if his parents, siblings, children or grandchildren were in need. He relished being an uncle and grandchildren were an added joy to his life.

Fishing, celebrating birthdays, holidays with his family, camping, barbecuing, dancing, country music, playing the spoons, hunting, snowmobiling and listening to the Red Sox on the radio and watching the New England Patriots were his favorite past times. But he was happiest when all of his family was around. Milt made it known that he felt blessed to have three families, one in the Northeast Kingdom, Chester and, of course, the American Legion.

Milton is survived by his wife Sue of Chester, his children: Penny (Scott) Martin; Tim (Donna) Willis of Derby; Beth- Anne Willis of North Troy; Meaghan Willis (Ryan) of Colchester; and Samantha Willis; and step-children Shannon; Kyle and Sierra Kemp and Lindsey Sturtevant, all of Chester. He is also survived by grandchildren Rodney; Macy; Greg (Mya); Tim JR; Emily; Lily; Samuel; Maddox; Halley and Owen, and by three great-grandchildren, Weston, Hailee and Beckett. Milton is also survived by his sister Linda Driver (Everett) of Newport Center; his brother Danny Willis of Tucson, Ariz.;  mother-in-law Carol Ploof of Lehigh Acres, Fla.; and many special nieces and nephews.

Milt was predeceased by his parents Milton Sr. and Margaret Willis; brother Neil; father-in-law Bob Ploof and two grandchildren Brianna and Michael, who surely were waiting for him to come home.

A Celebration of Life will be hosted by the Chester American Legion Post 67, at 2 p.m. on Sunday July 31. Milt loved his cowboy boots. Please feel free to wear your favorite western duds, in his memory. A private burial will be held at the Troy, Vermont, Cemetery at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Milt’s memory to: Missisquoi Valley Ambulance Service, 1375 Cross Road, Jay, VT 05859.

You may also send funds directly to Sue Willis, 110 Marcs Drive, Chester, VT 05143, ear-marked for a Memorial Fund that is being created to continue to service veterans in need throughout Vermont.

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  1. Bill Messacar says:

    Sad news – Milt did a lot for veterans in Vermont and I’m sure elsewhere –
    Condolences to his family and friends

    May he Rest In peace

    Post CN01 – Montreal