MOMENCE — Willis E. Bowser, 90, of Momence and Monee, passed away Sept. 23, 2020, at Amita Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee.
He was born May 8, 1930, in Bloomington, the son of Alva E. and Lucille (Hindenburg) Bowser.
Willis was the former owner of Kankakee Enterprises Alarm Company, which was acquired by ADT after his retirement in 1987.
He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, serving in Japan during the Korean Conflict. Afterward, he became an expert on sound systems, alarms and electronics, also teaching classes in electrical theory at Kankakee Community College.
Willis’s lifelong passion was amateur radio. At the time of his passing, he was the longest continuously licensed Ham operator in the United States. Known by his call name K9FO and on-air nickname Will, he was active beginning in the 1940s with the Kankakee Area Radio Society (KARS), spoke on air with thousands of other Hams from more than 100 countries, and participated in many Hamfest events and international radio contests through the decades.
He was an amateur bicyclist and rode all over Illinois and the U.S. with the Joliet Bicycle Club. An avid chef, he loved cooking and especially enjoyed chili cookoffs and grilling. Willis was interested in space and planetary exploration, and was a member of the Kankakee Astronomy Club. In the 1970s, Willis served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 308 of the Rainbow Council, welcoming diversity and a forward-looking program to the troop. He was also a lifelong music aficionado, particularly interested in New Orleans jazz; and dearly enjoyed many wonderful evenings of family and friends’ live music led by his partner, Barbara, at their home.
Surviving are one son, Jonathan Bowser, of New York, N.Y.; one daughter, Nancy (John) Szymkowski, of Bartlett; two grandchildren, Nicholas Szymkowski and Joan Szymkowski; his life partner for more than 20 years, Barbara Milosevich, of Monee; and her children, Annie (Kevin) Kincaid, of Momence, Tom (Grace) Curtis, of Des Plaines, Carol Brozo and Jim Kanas, of Rolling Meadows, and Paul Curtis, of Momence.
Willis was preceded in death by his parents.
Cremation rites have been accorded. A private family memorial service will be at a later date.
Funeral arrangements are by Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home in Bourbonnais.
Memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association.
Please sign his online guestbook at clancygernon.com.