Thomas Kurt Willis

November 12, 1941October 30, 2018

Thomas Kurt Willis, 76, of Lubbock, TX died at home in his sleep Tuesday, October 30, 2018.

Tom was born November 12, 1941 in Central City, NE, son of Orville and Druscilla Faye (Thomas) Willis. Tom is survived by his wife, (January 4, 1991), Paula (Nielson) Lindekugel-Willis; son, Shawn (Melissa) Willis, Suffolk, VA; daughter, Amy (George) Steinwald, San Antonio, TX; step-daughter, Lynnae Ripley, Lubbock, TX; grandson, Christopher Willis, Newport, RI; grandson, Wilson Steinwald, San Antonio, TX; granddaughter, Gabrielle Willis, Tuscaloosa, AL; step-granddaughters, Dominique Leija, Honolulu, HI, Demetria Leija, Corvallis, OR; former spouse (1966-1987), Linda (Memming)Willis Fisher, Bloomington, IL; life-long friend of 60 years, Charles Grantham, Raleigh, NC.

His parents and his sister Patricia Faye Cross preceded him in death.

After graduating from Grand Island High School, Grand Island, NE in 1959, he went on to serve in the US Navy until the end of 1962. He then earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education at Kearney State College, Kearney, NE and later, in 1991, a Master of Fine Arts in Art at Ft. Hays State University, Hays, KS.

Tom enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a Professor Fine Arts at Minot State University, Minot, ND where he taught ceramics, jewelry, sculpture and 3-D design until his retirement in 2000 at which time he was granted the title of Professor Emeritus. In his retirement, he continued to substitute teach at various area public schools.

After their house was taken in the 2011 Minot flood, he and Paula relocated to Florence, OR where they lived until last year. Their recent move to Lubbock was for them to be closer to Paula’s natural daughter Lynnae.

Tom was a man of many interests. Along with his intense love of fine art, Tom was an avid hunter and fisherman. In his younger days he played tennis almost everyday and as he approached middle age, he turned to golf as his primary activity. He also enjoyed sports cars, playing the guitar and watching movies. Most of all, he enjoyed entertaining. He was an accomplished gourmet chef and hosted many dinner parties for friends and family over the years.

Cremation rites were accorded. A private Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Memorials may be designated to the Minot State University Tom Willis Art Scholarship Fund.

Condolences may be sent to Paula at her home: 2513 58th Street, Lubbock, TX 79413-5631 or online at


Thomas Kurt Willis

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Jim Babb

November 12, 2018

I always enjoyed being around Tom. He was a great person and an asset to MSU.

I moved my mother to ND in her later days and she took a couple of classes from Tom. She thought he was the greatest teacher ever! I still have the pots she made in his class - she was proud of them.