Lola Maye Willats

May 1, 1930September 18, 2017

On Monday, September 18, 2017 our beautiful and loving mother and grandmother, Lola Willats, passed into the loving arms of her Heavenly Father. She was born in Osmond, Nebraska to Ferdinand and Bessie Schultze. One of twelve brothers and sisters, she was the youngest of the 7 sisters. Lola grew up in Nebraska and graduated from high school in 1947. While in high-school, she worked as an usher at the theatre in Osmond. After she graduated high-school she moved to Omaha where she attended beauty school.

In June of 1949 she married John Willats. They settled near their families in Plainview, Nebraska; all three of their children were born there. In 1956, John and Lola moved their family to California. John found work with a government contractor and Lola found work as a high-school cafeteria manager. It was during that time that she learned to bake her famous cinnamon rolls.

After retirement, John and Lola built their dream home in the high-desert of Southern California. They both became involved in volunteer work and enjoyed traveling. Her favorite destination, however, was always visiting her Nebraska relatives and her children and grandchildren for whom she loved to prepare Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

They moved to Fresno during the early 1990’s to be near their daughter, Cheryl, and her children, and their son, Ned. They lived for many years at a mobile-home park where they nurtured many long-lasting friendships. Lola was a resident of Fairwinds for the last years of her life. Lola was a confirmed member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and was active in local congregations her entire life. Early on she sang in the choir, helped prepare congregational meals, and belonged to the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML). Lola will be best remembered by her family and friends as having been a loving and kind woman who deeply loved God, her family, her friends and who made the best cinnamon rolls ever! Without doubt, Lola was proudest of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She always enjoyed a friendly, yet competitive, game of cribbage. Lola is survived by her three children: Steven and Joann Willats of New Jersey, Ned Willats of Fresno, CA, and Cheryl and Brent Coddington of Fresno, CA; two brothers: Marlin and Joan Schultze of Nebraska and Carrol Schultze of Hemet, CA; and numerous nieces and nephews. She is also survived by seven grandchildren: Jason and Amanda M. Ramirez-Smithberg of Fresno, CA; Allan and Desiree Smithberg of Clarksville, TN ; Amanda R. Smithberg-Urban and Stephen of Corona, CA; Michelle and Kip Wetzel of Philadelphia, PA; Bryan and Dineen Willats of McLean, VA; Susan and Tom McInerney of New York, NY; and Monica and Temy Mancusi-Ungaro of Westport, CT., and three step-grandchildren, Joshua Coddington of Phoenix, AZ; Mary Coddington of Seattle, WA; and Kat Hecht and Ben of Castle Rock, CO. Twenty great-grandchildren also survive her. Memorial services for Lola will be held on Saturday, November 4th, 2017 at 10:00 AM at Peace Lutheran Church in Fresno, CA. A luncheon and celebration of Lola’s life will be held at Fresno Breakfast House Banquet Room in Fresno, CA at 1:00 PM. Lola will be interred next to her husband of 64-years, John, at Avenue of the Flags at Victorville Valley Memorial Park in Victorville, CA. The family wishes to especially thank Kaiser Hospital, Dr. Karl Quinn, and Hinds Hospice for the compassion and care each of them personally showed towards Lola and her family. Special thanks and appreciation as well to Pastor Vernava at Peace Lutheran Church, Pastor Gary Stephenson at Hope Lutheran Church and to the Health and Wellness staff at Fairwinds-Woodward Park. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations be made in Lola Willats’ memory to Nancy Hinds Hospice (Fresno, CA) or to Peace Lutheran Church in Fresno, CA.

Arrangements under the direction of Stephens & Bean Funeral Chapel, Fresno, CA.


  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, November 4, 2017


Lola Maye Willats

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Stephens & Bean Chapel

October 1, 2017

Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.