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Paul “Buzz” Wills

Paul "Buzz" Wills

Paul “Buzz” Wills

Paul “Buzz” Wills, 68, of Amarillo, TX, took his final flight on September 12, 2018. He was born in Albuquerque, NM, to Norma Jean (Killian) and Paul Lewis Wills, Jr., in 1950. He lived in Amarillo most of his life but spent a decade in the DFW area in the ’90s. Over the years, he worked in the transportation and trucking industry, and at the time of his passing, worked for Cryogenic Research and Development of Amarillo.

Buzz, as he was known to everyone since childhood, was a faithful man. He was a member of the Episcopal Church and was known to carry his Book of Common Prayer in his car, in his jacket pocket, and while traveling. He especially loved the music ministries of the church and spent many hours performing with church choirs.

Music was very important to Buzz. He attended West Texas State University as a music major, and he performed with the Amarillo Symphony, the Amarillo Wind Ensemble as a French horn player, with the Amarillo Opera, and with Infinity (a Christian a cappella jazz group) of North Richland Hills. In his last years, Buzz performed at several veteran memorials. He was known always to be ready to sing with friends and family with his guitar, and we have many beautiful memories of singing long into the night with Buzz on the strings. He was also known to be ready with a harmonica and a song.

Buzz was a 46-year aeronaut and leaves behind a ballooning family all over the globe. He was introduced to the gas ballooning sport by making helium deliveries for Jack B. Kelley, Inc., which created a passion for being lighter than air, and Buzz was part of some of the most amazing balloon flights in the world. A commercial pilot, Master Instructor, FAA Pilot Examiner, and an icon, he flew in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for more than twenty-five years. He enjoyed flying all over the world with his mentor Ed Yost and a host of some of the most recognized pilots in the sport. If sunrise was at 7:00 a.m., his crew would be on the field at 4:00, ready to fly and killing time doing figure eights in the chase vehicle. Under Buzz’s mentorship, many of his crew also became pilots.

Along with his wife, Sharon, Buzz shared special relationships with scores of friends. Almost everyone he met came away with a story, and the family has been comforted by the tales of so many who spent time with him.

Most of all, Buzz was a family man. He is survived by the love of his life, Sharon (Green) Wills, who he had great adventures with for more than forty years. Also carrying on his legacy are his son, Brendan Wills, wife Jennifer, and grand dog Louie; daughter, Ashley Kogo and husband Mark; a sister, Catherine Ann Wills; two treasured grandchildren—Charlotte and Benjamin Kogo; and countless extended family and friends. His special canine companion, Maddie, will miss him as well.

A celebration of his life will be held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1601 Georgia St. S, Amarillo, on Monday, September 17, at 10:30 a.m. with the Rev. Dr. Jill Walters officiating.  Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Blvd.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Downtown Women’s Center of Amarillo or contributions to the Balloon Federation of America Scholarship Fund for Junior Balloonist Camps, ATTN: Buzz Wills, which provide opportunities for young people to learn how to become pilots.

The Balloonist’s Prayer

May the winds welcome you with softness.

May the sun bless you with its warm hands.

May you fly so high and so well that God

joins you in laughter and sets you gently

back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

17 Comments

  • Greg & Edna Thompson Posted September 14, 2018 6:20 pm

    Too many fond memories to recount. Though we aren’t active in the sport anymore, Buzz, Sharon and kiddos were with us at many, many early events. Such good times.. just like family. Of course he made everyone feel that way. We love the Wills as our own.

  • Jennifer Green German Posted September 14, 2018 6:55 pm

    Sharon- sending my love across the miles and years. Much love to you and the family.

  • Ed Montana Posted September 14, 2018 8:31 pm

    Buzz, I was always proud to call you my friend. Thank you for always being you! Fly high and shine!!!

  • Jim Jellison Posted September 15, 2018 4:45 am

    Sharon sorry for your loss. You know how much Buzz was loved by the ballooning world. And I appreciated what he did for me. You are all in my prayers.

  • Pam Klahr Hernandez Posted September 15, 2018 10:13 am

    Sharon – my heart hurts for you and your family. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

  • Edward Collier Posted September 15, 2018 10:38 am

    A Very nice tribute to Buzz, one of the nicest men I have ever met. He holds my highest degree of respect for the life he lived, the things he has accomplished, and the people he has touched and helped. He was a man of very high standards.

    Buzz accepted me as a friend and helped me achieve my dream of piloting a balloon and I will never forget the many years of good times we shared.

    I offer my condolences to the family and may his sole rest in peace.

  • Peggy Bain Bradshaw Posted September 15, 2018 11:06 am

    Sharon I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers.

  • Karen Roberts Reynolds Posted September 15, 2018 11:10 am

    Such as loss. He was a huge part of my teenage years. Lots of special memories

  • Carolyn Byrd McGee Posted September 15, 2018 7:38 pm

    Dearest Sharon and family my prayers are with you during this time of losing Buzz.
    May comfort surround you. Carolyn Byrd McGee

  • Skipp Maas Posted September 17, 2018 6:58 am

    My prayers go out to all those left behind. God has a plan and a purpose for us all, and we know that Buzz fulfilled both.

  • Helen Curtis Posted September 17, 2018 9:44 am

    Deepest sympathy — may loving memories continue to bring you and your family joy as well as comfort and peace.
    Prayers and blessings — Helen and Pat Curtis; Coppell, Texas

  • TECHÉOL’s Team Posted September 17, 2018 11:09 am

    A Very nice tribute to your father Brendan. We offer our condolences to you and your family. May his sole rest in peace.

  • Bert & Judy Kayser Posted September 17, 2018 11:41 am

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time. May God keep you close as you travel this new journey.

  • Greg Dodson Posted September 17, 2018 3:21 pm

    Sharon, so sorry for your loss. Buzz was special to me and he will be missed. I wished I could have been there.

  • Greg Yost Posted September 17, 2018 5:44 pm

    Absolutely a prince of a man. Buzz and dad are together now, flying in the greatest of skies!

  • Marilyn Phillips Posted September 17, 2018 5:47 pm

    I knew Buzz through him employer and over the years, we had many opportunities to visit. He always had many interesting stories to tell. He will be missed by all who knew him. He was just an all around nice man. Sincere condolences to his family.

  • John McPherson Posted September 17, 2018 11:38 pm

    Sharon, so sorry for the loss of Buzz. He was a great guy. You two were a lovely couple. we last met in Colorado Springs a few years back when my Sharon and I were visiting family there. Life seems so short anymore, especially when you see good people passing ahead of you. You know Buzz is in God’s hands now. Our hearts hurt for your loss. God bless you and family.

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