Doris Wills, owner and co-founder of Jack Wills Outdoor Living, died June 1. She was 85.
A service is set for 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at Floral Haven Funeral Home in Broken Arrow. A visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, also at the funeral home.
The Wills family’s ties to the furniture business trace back 80 years to 1939, when Doris Wills’ father-in-law started Jack Wills Furniture and Draperies in downtown Tulsa.
Her husband, Jack Wills Jr., later joined his father in the business.
After the elder Wills’ death in 1968, Jack Jr., with Doris as his full-time partner, changed direction. They opened their own place in Oklahoma City and shifted to specializing in outdoor furniture.
“They went all outdoor casual,” said their son, Jack Wills III, who is now company president. “They were really one of the first stores in the country to do that.”
The couple reopened a Tulsa location in 1972.
Wills III said his mother’s role with the company was vital.
“Everybody in the industry knew my mom was the backbone,” he said. “My dad was the face of the business, involved in sales, blowing and going with customers. She was behind the scenes, dealing with creditors, the money side — which is the hard part.”
Doris Wills’ levelheaded business sense provided a necessary counterbalance to his father’s imagination, Wills III said.
“He was the idea guy. She’d wasn’t afraid to put the water on some of his fires,” Wills III said, laughing.
After her husband’s death in 1993, it was Doris Wills who kept the company going.
“I can say that if not for her there would be no Jack Wills (Outdoor Living) today,” Wills III said. “The easy thing would’ve been to take the life insurance money, close everything up and call it a day. But she didn’t do that. She is the reason the company is still around.”
Today, Jack Wills Outdoor Living has stores in Tulsa and Springdale, Arkansas.
Doris Wills was preceded in death by her husband and three siblings.
Survivors include her children, Kim Wills-Lundy, Amy Calzaretta and Jack Wills III; nine grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and two sisters, Bonnie Kazemi and Dortha Killian.
Memorial donations may go to the Brain Trauma Foundation at braintrauma.org.