COLUMBIA — Frieda Cathey-Willis of Columbia died Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011. She was 86.
Mrs. Cathey-Willis, known to her family and loved ones as “Nanny,” was born Oct. 20, 1925, in Wheeler, Kan., to George and Sadie Cathey.
She and her family moved to Columbia in 1937, where Mrs. Cathey-Willis graduated from Hickman High School in 1943. Four years later, she married Dardin Leon Willis.
Mrs. Cathey-Willis dedicated her life to children, whether it was her own or those who attended Columbia public schools. She worked in the kitchen at Parkade Elementary School, Mill Creek Elementary School and her alma mater, Hickman High School.
“She loved kids, all kids,” her son, Gary Willis, said. “And she lived for her grandkids; she’d take them anywhere they wanted to go.”
Her grandson Damon Willis remembers her as a giver. “She would do anything for anyone,” he said. “I remember we used to drive over to the old airport and watch the airplanes for hours.”
Mrs. Cathey-Willis was a long-time member of Christian Chapel in Columbia.
She spent her spare time baking cookies and other sweets for her family and friends.
“Mostly, when I was growing up, Mom stayed home, and she was always cooking and taking care of us — spoiled me rotten as best she could,” Gary Willis said. “There wasn’t anything Mom couldn’t cook.”
She also enjoyed sewing, painting, reading and making crafts.
Mrs. Cathey-Willis is survived by her sister, Vinita Moreau of Columbia; a daughter, Charlene Mendenhall of Tomball, Texas; a son, Gary Willis and his wife, Leslie, of Columbia; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Her husband, Dardin Leon Willis; and her four sisters, Jewel Cannon, Beulah Lober, June Hall and Rowena Baumgartner died earlier.
Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. Monday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W.
Services will be follow at 2 p.m. at the funeral home.
Condolences can be posted at memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.