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July 18, 1923 — Feb. 17, 2011
Willa Jean (Bailey) Loomis loved living in El Dorado County. A country girl from the plains of Texas, she was born in the small town of Hale Center near Lubbock on July 18, 1923, to Guy and Eva (Evelyn) Bailey. The third child of four, she had an older brother Ray, an older sister Evelyn Merle, and a younger brother Jack. Her brothers preceded her in death but Evelyn still lives in Lubbock, Texas.
As Willa grew up in Hale Center she distinguished herself, especially in athletics. Although a child of the Depression era, her family owned a produce store and they considered themselves lucky. After graduating from high school, Willa initially attended Abilene Christian College and later transferred to Texas Tech College in Lubbock at her parents’ behest to have her closer to home once World War II started. She enjoyed sharing college stories with the family, such as being the first one in her dorm to hear about the bombing of Pearl Harbor on the radio (for which she got in trouble for spreading rumors), winning college championship titles for playing badminton and tennis, and writing to servicemen. In 1944, Willa graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education.
In 1945, Willa moved, as so many others, to the golden state of California and found work in Southern California. In August of 1946 she met Adrian Loomis on a blind date. He thought she would be a cheap date for dinner since she had just gone to the dentist. Instead she ate a steak and a hamburger. She thought he was a bit of a blowhard because he flashed a wad of bills trying to impress her. Obviously, something clicked because he took her to meet his parents on the second date and three months later they drove to Las Vegas and got married. The marriage lasted 43 years until Adrian’s death in 1989. Willa said that she and Adrian could talk about anything and that he always made her laugh.
Soon after marrying, Willa and Adrian moved to Placerville. Brothers-in-law Adrian and Dub Walker opened the Diamond Springs grocery. Ten months after marrying, first son Scott arrived and second son Craig came along 16 months after that. A daughter Nancy followed three years later to complete the family.
During their early years of marriage, Willa and Adrian met other couples and made many lifelong friends — the Shorteses, Farrells, Fergusons, Giambrunos, Vismans — and many, many others. Willa also maintained a lifelong friendship with Joann Porter (Robason), her childhood friend from Hale Center, and her family.
Adrian and Willa opened their own grocery store in El Dorado in the early 1950s. Adrian was well known throughout the county for his entrepreneurial endeavors. Willa enjoyed being his business partner and prided herself on her business acumen. By this time the family was living on 3-and-a-half acres on Green Valley Road. They enjoyed many years of idyllic country living and had a progression of sheep, goats, horses, cattle, cats and some dogs, although Sissy was the family dog that guarded the homestead by “smiling” (although strangers thought she was baring her teeth). Adrian built a swimming pool near the house and family and friends had many hours of recreation around and in the “cement pond.”
While living on Green Valley Road, Adrian worked long hours while Willa “held down the fort” at home. During this time, Willa liked to go fishing, play shuffleboard, host friends at the house and get away on the occasional vacation with Adrian to Palm Springs. She also was den mother for Scott’s Cub Scout troop and always spoke fondly of the boys in her troop. Other businesses that Willa and Adrian were involved with or had were Holiday Hills, El Dorado Lumber/Hardware, building houses, Snack Market, Adrian’s Pizza Parlor and the Jolly Kone on old Highway 50 (which was moved in the late 1960s to Cameron Park and transformed into the Burger Saloon). Willa enjoyed being a part of these business ventures — life was an opportunity for those willing to work hard for it!
By the 1970s, the children had left for college or gotten married, so Willa and Adrian designed, built, and moved into their dream house on Mother Lode Drive. Willa loved being in this house and loved decorating it.
Once retired, Willa and Adrian traveled in RV trailers and motor homes for many years. They travelled across country to visit Scott and Craig who were living on the East Coast by then. In addition, they both got to travel overseas to the United Kingdom and Colombia to check in with Nancy and Scott respectively. A special destination for them was the Fountain of Youth in Niland, Calif., near the Salton Sea, where they made even more friends! While sporting around the United States, Willa always did the driving. Driving was an enjoyable experience for her and she loved her maroon 1994 Honda Accord.
Willa was a loving caregiver to Adrian during the 1980s while he had increasing health problems. After his death in 1989, she became an independent individual who divided her time between the Fountain of Youth, Placerville and visiting family and friends. In the past decade, she found comfort and companionship in her church family at Church of Christ on Missouri Flat Road, with a special “sister bond” with Lola Colegrove.
Willa had lots and lots of favorite things: a good joke, stylish and sporty clothes, emailing her friends on her computer, movies, cooking and cookbooks, Fox news, all kinds of gadgets and small appliances, umbrellas, scarves, white pants, watching tennis on TV and the Sacramento Kings (well, until she got disgusted with them). Anyone who knew her at all knew that the taboo time to call or visit her was from 6:30 to 7 when Jeopardy was on. There were two other things that Willa loved above all else: Being told that she looked much younger than her actual age (which she did) and seizing the opportunity at any and all times to tell stories about her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Left to celebrate her memory and life are children and grandchildren, Scott and Diane Loomis (Stuart and Camille), Craig and Rebecca Loomis (Dana Keffer, Persis and Saleah) and Nancy and Carl Matz (Neil and Chanin Anaya). Great-grandchildren include Kaylee Keffer, Ethan, Sydney and Riley Matz and Mason and Nolan Anaya. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren had a special name for Willa: Pal. Two special sisters-in-law are Dorothy Bailey of Rancho Cordova and Kathleen Bailey of Lubbock. Many nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews will also miss “Aunt Willa.”
The family of Willa Loomis would like to give heartfelt thanks to her compassionate doctors, the dedicated staff of Marshall Hospital, the supportive staff at DaVita Dialysis, her patient four caregivers (Christine, Gail, Karen and Mary) and her loving Church of Christ family. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Snowline Hospice, Church of Christ or El Dorado County Library.