Mrs. Gloria Willis
Mrs. Gloria Willis, who worked in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools for 41 years and served on the Board of Education for 21 years, passed away this morning after a brief illness. Always a leader who put children first, Mrs. Willis began working in Kansas City, Kansas in 1953, serving as a teacher, central office consultant, principal, and finally as a board member. She oversaw and participated in the transition of the district from a segregated system in 1953, to one that today serves a multicultural population from across the globe.
Born in Texas, Mrs. Willis graduated from Tillotson College in 1952, and came up to Kansas City, Kansas to teach. She taught at five different elementary schools in the district over 18 years, before becoming a central office consultant. After a year as principal at Grant Elementary, she moved over to Quindaro Elementary, where she was principal for 13 years. She retired from the district in 1994, and the next year joined the Board of Education.
A strong advocate for children, Mrs. Willis always placed the needs of children first in her work with the Board and the district administration. She also strongly believed in the important role that parents play in their child’s education, and frequently raised the question during meetings: “Have we reached out to the parents? What do they think?”
In addition to her education service, Mrs. Willis was a member for 63 years at Trinity African-American Episcopal Church, where she served on the Board of Trustees, the Stewardess Board and the Women’s Missionary Society. She also volunteered and served on the board of many community organizations, including City Vision Ministries, Shepherd’s Center, Wyandotte Center and the Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
Mrs. Willis was predeceased by her husband, Russell. They had one daughter, Sonya Willis, who currently works in the district.