Edward J. Willi Jr., 85, a longtime resident of West Redding and former U.S. Navy officer, died suddenly on Monday, June 25, 2018, while recuperating from a lingering illness.
A man deeply devoted to Cecilia, his wife of 57 years, his daughter, Denise, and his three grandchildren — Alexandra, Sean and Samantha Coffey — Ed was a proud graduate of Dartmouth College (’55) whose diverse passions included the New York Yankees, big-band music and all flavors of ice cream.
The son of the late Edward J. and Helen Willi, and brother of the late Marion Whittemore, Ed grew up on the Upper East Side, attending the Trinity School before enrolling in Dartmouth. He was both an accomplished tennis player — he could often be found belting forehands at the courts behind Joel Barlow High School — and a gifted pianist who studied at Juilliard. He served five years in the Navy, met his bride while at port at Vina del Mar, Chile and then began a career as a South America-based executive with General Motors and Clark Equipment, before relocating to the States and starting his own import-export business on Mountain Road in West Redding, CT, where he lived for 40 years.
Ed came to love Chile, and traveled there regularly with Cecilia, Denise and the grandchildren. His other favorite destination was his family’s longtime summer cottage in Twilight Park, Haines Falls, NY.
Among Ed’s greatest achievements was his 45 years of sobriety as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, one day at a time. He regularly attended AA meetings in Redding, Georgetown, Westport and Ridgefield, and was known for his unstinting efforts to help newcomers to the program find recovery, just as he did.
A memorial service celebrating Ed’s life will be held on Saturday, July 7, at 11 a.m. at the Old Dutch Church, 430 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to High Watch Recovery Center (www.highwatchrecovery.com), P.O. Box 607, Kent, CT 06757.