Lofton Matthew Willis, Sr. was born on May 22, 1932, to Minnie Villines Johnson Willis and Willie Willis in Roxboro, North Carolina. After a brief illness, he passed away on June 21, 2021, in High Point, North Carolina, surrounded by family. Lofton was a proud member of the Pleasant Grove Union High School class of 1952. At Pleasant Grove, he was a member of the basketball and baseball teams, played the drums in the band and was known as a sharp dresser. After graduating, Lofton followed in the footsteps of one of his older brothers and enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he faithfully served his country for two years before being honorably discharged. He fondly told the story of how cheaply he could have flown home while stationed in Texas, opting instead to spend two days traveling by bus because of his fear of flying.
Lofton enjoyed spending quality time with family, watching his Duke Blue Devils and Carolina Panthers compete and playing cards — notably Bid whist and Spades. He was loyal to his friends and helped them when he could. Lofton was a hard worker and a good provider for his family, holding various jobs while living in Stamford, Connecticut. Upon moving his family to Burlington, North Carolina, in 1971, he worked as a custodian and bus driver for Grove Park Elementary School, and at Andrew Brothers Grocery Store. In the 1980s, Lofton found his niche when he established a lawn care business, through which he employed some of his children and several of his friends. He was once featured in the Daily Times News in 1986 for his ingenuity in devising a way to mow a steep bank in Glen Raven.
Lofton was married to the love of his life, the former Mamie Marie Miles, who survives him. He is also survived by his children: Aaron Matthew Willis (Janice) of Whitsett, North Carolina; Teresa Ann Willis of Yonkers, New York; Janice Deloris Stone (Eddie) of Graham, North Carolina; Laurie Denise Willis of McLeansville, North Carolina; and Robert William Willis of High Point, North Carolina; four grandchildren: Reginald Maurice Willis of Greensboro, North Carolina; Kristen Willis Russell (Xavier) of Burlington, North Carolina; Kyesha Sherrell Willis of Burlington, North Carolina; and Chilaun Dominique Willis of Norcross, Georgia; eight great-grandchildren; three sisters-in-law, Sylvia Ervin of Jonesboro, Georgia, Mae B. Miles of Burlington, North Carolina, and Lila Mae Johnson of Burlington, North Carolina; and several nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
In addition to his parents, Lofton was preceded in death by a son, Lofton Matthew Willis, Jr. (Angela); and siblings Annie Bell Richmond, Edith Bell Raines, Earl Johnson, George Johnson, Robert Johnson, Willie Johnson and Clyde Willis.
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