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Bernita Belle Willis, formerly of Shawneetown

  • Bernita Belle Willis

    Bernita Belle Willis

updated: 11/28/2017 4:26 PM

SHAWNEETOWN -- Bernita Belle Willis, 97, formerly of Shawneetown, passed away at 12:48 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Colonial Assisted Living in Henderson, Kentucky.

She was born May 30, 1920, near Norris City in the Indian Creek area to Lemuel Potter and Emma Mae (Ripperdan) Knowles.

Bernita married Melvin Wallace Willis on Aug. 30, 1958, and Melvin preceded her in death on Sept. 10, 2002.

She was a member of Emmanuel Methodist Church in Shawneetown and the DAR Eldorado chapter.

Bernita retired from Illinois Department of Public Aid after 34 years of faithful and committed service to the community.

Survivors include her son, Michael Nolen of Henderson, Kentucky; four grandchildren, Tammy Kelly, John Michael Shirk, Bryan Nolen and Kathryn Nolen; seven great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; and two nephews, Sherman and Glendal Shell.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; daughter, Jonnie Kay Shirk; great-grandson, Jason Matthew Kelly; two sisters, Susan Knowles and Eileen Shell; six brothers, Vides Knowles, Cleo Knowles, Arnold Knowles, Orval Knowles, Lemuel Knowles and Frenchie Dunivan; and daughter-in-law, Ruth Nolen.

Bernita was an inspiration to everyone who knew her, and she will be sadly missed.

Funeral services will be at noon Tuesday, Nov. 29, in Vickery Funeral Chapel in Shawneetown with the Rev. Cherrie Wilkerson officiating. Burial will be in Hogan Cemetery in rural Shawneetown. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday at the funeral home.

Memorials may be made to Emmanuel Methodist Church in Shawneetown. Internet condolences may be made at