Cotten Funeral Home

2201 Neuse Blvd, New Bern, NC


James "Tom" Thomas Willis

April 26, 1945December 1, 2019

James Thomas "Tom" Willis, 74, of New Bern, went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, December 1st, 2019. Tom was a dedicated family man who loved his family, church and friends beyond measure. He had a great joy and zest for life while making others laugh. As an avid outdoorsman, Tom loved to hunt, fish, camp out, and travel to new and exciting places. He enjoyed dancing and singing, especially with his friends at the Red Barn in Rocky Hock, NC.

He was preceded in death by his parents, James Hugh Willis and Laura Gaskill Willis; and son of the heart, Robert "Bobby" Watson.

He is survived by his loving wife of 22 years, Connie Willis; children of the heart, Brad Watson (Jessica) and Sheila Watson Hill (Scott); grandchildren, Shay Powers (Brooke), Kristina Watson, Michael Powers (Paige), Jessica Hill Ericksen (Zachary), Dustin Watson, Brittany Watson, Robert Dillon Watson, Allyson Marie Watson (Renee), and Carter Sorrell; great grandchildren, Wyatt James Powers, Brayden Powers, Kaylin Powers, Adam Powers, Arya Powers, Karsen Ericksen, Skylar Massengill and Mackinlee Massengill; and fur baby, Molly.

Services will be held on Friday, December 6th at New Covenant Church of New Bern with visitation at noon, followed by the funeral at 1 p.m., conducted by Pastor Ben Britt. He will then be laid to rest at New Bern Memorial Cemetery.


  • Visitation Friday, December 6, 2019
  • Funeral Service Friday, December 6, 2019


James "Tom" Thomas Willis

have a memory or condolence to add?

Susan Pitts

December 5, 2019

My thoughts and prayers are with you Connie & the rest of the family. Praying God will give you Peace, Understanding & Strength during this difficult time. I am so sorry for your loss. Remembering meeting Tom in Tuscarora and knowing him through you throughout your courtship and marriage. Tom was pleasant to be around and seemed to always be smiling. He certainly will be missed. If there is anything I can do, let me know.

W Lyon

December 4, 2019

Tom, you were unfailing kind, uncommonly funny, and a man of unwavering faith. I cherish the great memories of times spent in your company, and am so very grateful that you were the husband of my beloved sister and extraordinary “Poppy” to my family. Like the outdoors that you loved, I will always think of you as light, air, and joy.

Dana Goodwin

December 3, 2019

Words seem to be feeble in moments like these. Life is so precious, and death such a thief. The depths of your pain I cannot comprehend. But I'll stand alongside of you in the darkness, my friend. Love is a bond, that death cannot part. Gone from your arms, but forever in your heart.

Love You,

Dana, Jordyn & Baylee

Jessica Watson

December 3, 2019

Poppy Tom has was a big kid! He was silly, so silly. The fun never stopped. Hunting, fishing, traveling, camping, and singing. He lived life and enjoyed living it! There were no step-children, in laws or halves in Tom’s eyes, just family. He leaves a legacy as my son will forever carry on fishing skills taught from their many summer expeditions. It was a pleasure knowing Tom and an honor having him as my family.

Allyson Watson

December 2, 2019

This is by far one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. Poppy was one of the most kindest, funniest, most loyal person you would ever meet. He was always the light of the shoe and always knew how to make you laugh.

I remember him telling me that when I was born and he was standing beside all the other families looking into the glass at the babies he said to them “that’s my little girl”. And that’s what I am and always will be.

I love you poppy, I’m so proud to be called your grandaughter. I am definitely going to miss you. This isn’t going to be easy at all. But I’m going to make you proud, I promise ❤️

Give Uncle Bobby a hug for me and tell him I love him!

I am so proud of you for fighting the fight you did. You are so strong.

Renee Weiss

December 2, 2019

Poppy was an amazing person who always knew how to make you laugh. He was so welcoming and so loving, and the type of person who would do absolutely anything for you. Poppy took me in as his own and never treated me any different. He was one of the greatest people I have had the honor to not only know and share memories with, but call family. We miss you pop, thank you for all the great memories!