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.