Rory Steven Willett
1950 - 2016
66, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family at The Serenity House in Santa Barbara, CA on July 14, 2016. Born in Ventura, CA on January 17, 1950, he is survived by his loving wife of 36 years, Barbara Ann, his son Justin Willett (Mandy) of Solvang and his daughter Lisa Fry (Joel) of Vacaville. He leaves behind his brother Michael Willett of Ojai, sisters Rochelle Kempf (John) of Oxnard and Lori Goudeau (Paul) of Santa Maria, his six grandchildren Steven Willett (Lauren) of Ojai, Victoria and Tristan Willett of Grafton, WV, Clay and Maxine Willett of Solvang and Everett Fry of Vacaville and his three great-grandchildren Juno, Caleb, and Arya Willett of Ojai. He is preceded in death by his parents, Bayard and Melva Willett, his brother Patrick Willett and his first born son, Jeffrey Willett.
His youth was spent in the serene Ojai Valley, spending most of his childhood hunting, camping, fishing, hiking, running through the orange groves, and surfing at the Rincon. He played tennis, basketball, football, baseball, boxing, and golf. He tried to stay out of trouble, but with two older brothers that was almost impossible! His love of sports led him to a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, where he met the love of his life, Barbara. They moved back to CA, deciding to make a home in Santa Barbara in 1978, and raised their family in both Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. He was most proud of his son and daughter who became gifted athletes themselves in the sports of golf and basketball leading to athletic scholarships from the University of the Pacific and University of California Santa Barbara, respectively.
As a co-owner of Village Pool Supply, Inc. since 1980, he enjoyed many years of getting to know his loyal customers and always had the gift of gab. An avid golfer for most of his life, and most recently a Men’s Club member of The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang, CA, he spent many wonderful hours enjoying the outdoors. He was a member of the Sandpiper Men’s Club for over 10 years teaching all of his family to golf and thoroughly enjoyed his many rounds of golf, playing both competitively and socially. “The Willett Open” occurred on numerous occasions and was followed by a weekend for extended family fun. He enjoyed many family vacations traveling as far as Barbados, Australia, Costa Rica, England, and France and climbed to the summit of Mt. Whitney with some friends. He was a classic car enthusiast and enjoyed many hours of revving the motor of his ’66 Chevy. His sense of adventure was loved by all!
Anyone who knew Rory well enjoyed his great sense of humor and his ability to reach out and make anyone smile. He was outgoing and was often concerned with making the world a better place. He always felt fortunate being a business owner, which allowed him flexibility with family and sports but, also, the ability to help his employees when a need arose. He was so grateful to have had so many good friends and employees who were a tremendous support during the past few years. He loved Santa Barbara for all its beauty and he had quite a competitive spirit. He never gave up and he was always cheering for the underdog!
His family would like to thank Dr. Jon Uyesaka and his competent, sincere and caring staff, Hospice of Santa Barbara, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care, The Serenity House, and The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara for all their advice and emotional support throughout his lengthy illness. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please send donations to Hospice of Santa Barbara or The Serenity House.
A “Celebration of Life” gathering will be held in the Anacapa Room at The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa on Saturday, August 13th from 2:00-5:00 pm.