Stephen Heffernan Willey, a widely respected real estate appraiser and dedicated servant leader in Columbia for more than 50 years, passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 2, 2021 in Columbia. Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and a Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, both at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 902 Bernadette Drive, Columbia. Burial will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery.Steve was born in Springfield, Missouri, the middle child of Clarence B. and Alice Heffernan Willey. He attended Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, and graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.Steve was an American patriot who believed deeply in his country’s core values and highest ideals. He was proud to have served as a Second Lieutenant in the Army National Guard, and prouder still of the decorated service of his son, Army Major John Michael Willey. Steve was a devout Catholic and a longstanding member of Our Lady of Lourdes parish, a man who believed in public service and contributing to the common good: From his volunteer work with the American Red Cross and his 15-year term on the Planning and Zoning Committee, to his long association with the Jaycees, Steve was always the quietly dependable guy who showed up and stepped up to make Columbia a better community. Steve also served Columbia as one of its most respected and successful real estate professionals. Founder and owner of the American Real Estate Company, he was widely recognized for his skill as a real estate appraiser, his commitment to client service, and his unwavering professional and personal integrity. In honor of those talents and values, Steve served in 1978 as the President of the Columbia Board of Realtors and in 1982 was named Realtor of the Year.Soft-spoken and quick to smile, Steve loved a good story – especially the ones about Stephens College, where his wife, Leslie, is an alumna and has been a faculty member and administrator for more than 25 years. Steve loved – and was beloved by – so many friends and neighbors across Columbia who recognized in him a man of sharp wit, great kindness and gentle humility. Steve is survived by Leslie, his wife of 26 years; his daughter, Mary Willey Banash of Overland Park, Kansas; grandsons Andrew and Alex Banash; and his sister, Sharon M. Willey of Columbia. He was preceded in death by his son, Army Major John Michael Willey; his brother, John Francis Willey; and his parents, Clarence B. and Alice Heffernan Willey.In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: The Steve and Leslie Willey Scholarship Fund, established to support a diverse community of students at the Stephens College Children’s School; or to the American Red Cross. Donations to the scholarship fund may be made online at http://weblink.donorperfect.com/SteveWilley, or sent to Stephens College, Office of Advancement, 1200 E. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65215. Donations to the American Red Cross can be made online at https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html/ in Steve’s name.Arrangements are under the direction of Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory, 12 East Ash Street, Columbia, MO 65203 (573) 449-4153. Condolences may be left online for the family at www.parkermillard.com.
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