howard "howie" wills
Howard “Howie” Wills
February 28, 1953 – April 3, 2023
With great sorrow, the Wills family shares that Howard W. Wills, a resident of Nashville, Indiana, passed away on the evening of April 3, 2023.
Howard was born on February 28, 1953, in Chicago, Illinois to Howard A. Wills, Jr. and Evelyn V. Wills (Wonnacott) who preceded him in death. Also preceding him in death was his stepfather Edward Wonnacott and stepsister Jean Ince. He is survived by his wife Candy Wills, brother Raymond (Paula) Wills, stepbrother Don Wonnacott, stepsister Debbie (Jeff) Kochis, and nephews Eric (Gina) Wills, Nicholas (Sarah) Wills, and Isaac Wills. He was a devoted great uncle to Grace, Tyler, Lyla, Jay, Cory, and Oliver Wills. He also had numerous step-nieces/nephews and great step-nieces/nephews.
Howard was a free spirit and lovingly referred to by his family and friends as “Howie.” Howard utilized his dual-degrees in English and journalism from the University of Illinois and his master’s degree in education from Indiana University as a published non-fiction author and poet, entrepreneur, Story Inn Tavern’s philosopher, and beloved educator (most recently as an adjunct lecturer of English at Ivy Tech Community College). His varied career path also included reporting for the Hammond Times, ship rigging on the three-masted Balclutha in San Francisco, bartending at Uncle Bunky’s Border Bar on Milwaukee Avenue, and teaching at Many Farms High School on a Navajo Reservation in Arizona.
Howard grew up in the Roseland/Pullman area on the southside of Chicago on Calumet Avenue and continued, until his death, to have regular contact with his lifelong friends, the “Calumet Boys”, whose hangout was the “porch.”
He attended Pullman grammar school, located in the historic Pullman neighborhood. Howie’s free spirit became evident early. At the age of 10, he built a raft in the backyard with the intention of floating it down an area river. Unfortunately, his plan was thwarted because his raft was too large to transport. He represented Fenger High School as part of a 3-member team on a televised academic quiz show “It’s Academic” and graduated in the top 5 of his class.
He then attended the University of Illinois where he earned degrees in English and journalism and upon graduation, began his professional career reporting for the Hammond Times. Howie left his job as a reporter to pursue the road less traveled. He began a cross-country adventure to Arizona where he explored the desert and found “lodging” in the caves of the Superstition Mountains.
From Arizona, he traveled to San Francisco where he was a ship rigger on the three-masted Balclutha, which is still docked near Fisherman’s Warf. Howard’s time on the ship was preserved on the front cover of a local magazine—the image captured him working on the mast while the ship sailed in the harbor.
He continued with the ship’s crew until he had an untimely “interaction” with a tugboat.
Upon returning to Chicago, Howard bartended at night at Uncle Bunky’s Border Bar on Milwaukee Avenue—where good memories were made by many. He spent his days learning the trades as an aluminum sider. Always the entrepreneur, Howard combined those skills and his love of heights to start a contracting business which involved scaling scaffolding multiple stories high. During this time, he also purchased, renovated, and sold properties on the northside of Chicago.
After a couple of years of living just 2 blocks from Wrigley Field (despite being an avid Sox fan), Howard moved into a log cabin in Nashville, Indiana and opened a nautical shop. Fond memories of camping vacations as a teenager at Brown County State Park with his family made Brown County a place that Howard loved and felt comfortable. Much later, Howard and Candy married in that same park. While living in Nashville, Howard pursued his master’s degree in education from Indiana University. As part of the curriculum, he spent a semester living in Arizona on a Navajo Reservation teaching at Many Farms High School.
After securing his masters, Howard pursued many passions including opening a consulting business providing workplace training to corporations in central and southern Indiana, teaching as an adjunct lecturer of English at IUPUC, writing and publishing non-fiction, presenting at educational conferences, and purchasing and renovating properties. In his free time, he wrote poetry, imparted wisdom to da Wall (opuses 1-3), and acted as the Story Inn Tavern’s philosopher.
Howard recently “retired” but continued to manage his properties and teach as an adjunct lecturer of English at Ivy Tech Community College. He prioritized hanging out with Candy by the pond on their property—which featured a dock he constructed reminiscent of the giant raft from his childhood. Howie and Candy found peace and happiness together at their home in Brown County, 10 minutes from
his beloved state park.
Visitation will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, Indiana on Friday, May 5, 2023, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. with a brief service to follow at 1:30 p.m. In keeping with Howard’s wishes,
cremation has taken place. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at www.lls.org.
We will all dearly miss Howard’s smile, laugh, wit, generosity, insight, and enthusiasm for life.
4/11/2023 12:05:25 pm
Howie A fun loving free spirit may he rest in eternal peace.🙏🙏🙏
4/12/2023 06:16:05 am
I was in kindergarten with Howie and played baseball against he and his brother Ray at Fernwood Park. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
4/12/2023 01:48:33 pm
Howie, my favorite
4/12/2023 04:59:52 pm
I am so sorry to hear of this loss. I will never forget the day I met Howie at the Lake several summers ago and near Columbus. We will be thinking of you and your family.
Tionna and Jason Bell
4/12/2023 07:24:09 pm
Rest well my friend. You are so missed..already and forever.
4/13/2023 08:02:02 am
I’m just seeing this very, very sad news. My deepest heartfelt condolences to Candy, Howard’s family and all fellow friends who held him dear. You will forever be missed and fondly remembered always.
4/14/2023 07:28:33 am
Seems like yesterday we were playing in Pullman grammar school’s recess yard. Sail-on Howie on winds of peace.
Karen Dunn Hamick
4/14/2023 12:42:20 pm
Howie was my walking buddy going home from Pullman grammar school. I was so proud of how well he did in high school and getting into the University of Illinois. I always kept thinking I would see him again and get to hear about his life, which I assumed would be colorful. Thank you for providing this obituary.
5/1/2023 06:09:49 am
To Cathy, family & friends, My deepest sympathy to you. You were my landlord & my friends. Always looked forward to seeing both of you. Janet James Gessling
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