Frank Armstrong Willison (July 30, 2001)
Please note: Sunday Morning, June 14, 2020, Remembrance Service at 50th Reunion.
We will honor departed members of the Class of 1970 at a Remembrance Service on Sunday morning, June 14, 2020, during our 50th Reunion. The service will be led by led by our classmate Rev. Chris Bryan. We hope you will plan to attend.
Frank passed away suddenly of a heart attack in Jamaica Plain, MA . Beloved husband of Margaret (Shaner) Willison. Father of Robert B. & Margaret H. Willison both of Jamaica Plain. Brother of Candace Johnston of Pittsburgh, PA & Beata Willison of Santa Cruz, CA. Son of Willa Lee Willison and the late Robert A. Willison. (Boston Globe, date unknown)
The following tribute came from the O’Reilly Media, Inc. website, where Frank served as Editor in Chief at the time of his death:
Dear Customers and Friends,
O’Reilly editor in chief Frank Willison suffered a heart attack and died the morning of July 30th. This is a tragedy.
Of all of us at O’Reilly, Frank is the one we’d most have imagined growing old and grandfatherly, dispensing to successive generations the wisdom, humor and caring that he shared with all of us. He is (I use the present tense deliberately) one of those people who is an inspiration to us all, someone who demonstrates convincingly how to be a wonderful human being.
In times like these, I find comfort in a passage from Wallace Stevens:
The shadows of his fellows ring him round
In the high night, the summer breathes for them
Its fragrance, a heavy somnolence, and for him,
For the soldier of time, it breathes a summer sleep,
In which his wound is good because life was.
No part of him was ever part of death.
The passing of our heroes (and Frank was one of my heroes and mentors, as I’m sure he was for so many of you as well) reinforces in us the knowledge that what matters is not the time or manner of our passing, but the way we lived. Frank lived in a way we would all be proud to live; I’m sure he continues on to his next adventure with the same light and curious touch.
We will all miss Frank very painfully in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. But what he gave to each of us will remain as part of the treasure each of us stores up in our life, and hopefully passes on to those around us, as Frank was so ready to do.
In parting, I’d like to share two things with you. The first is a collection of fragments from Frank’s emails and columns. His writing was anticipated and collected by O’Reilly employees because of the wit, wisdom, humor, and humanity he wrote with. O’Reilly PR director Lisa Mann kept the file these come from. Around the company the file was known as “The Best of Frank.”
Secondly, O’Reilly CTO Jon Orwant put together a memorial web site where people can share their favorite memories of Frank. I encourage you to do so if you’ve got something to share.
Go well, Frank. –Tim