Johnson City Press: Martha Rose O'Brien Willis

no avatar

Martha Rose O'Brien Willis

• Jan 19, 2016 at 5:34 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Martha Rose O'Brien Willis, age 93, of 2734 E. Oakland Avenue, Johnson City died January 15, 2016, at Christian Care, Johnson City.

Rose's life will be celebrated in a memorial service at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, 605 Sunset Drive on Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. The family will greet friends from 1:00 p.m. until the service at the church.

Rose was born in Jamesport, MO to Charlie B. O'Brien and Louise Bedford O'Brien and grew up in Omaha, NE.

She was predeceased by her sisters, Lila Petersen and Annice O'Brien of Omaha, NE; her brother, Bud O'Brien of Omaha; and her sister, Betty Marshall of Arlington, VA.

After high school, Rose and two of her siblings joined the Marines and served in the Pacific Theater.

Upon the completion of her military service with the rank of sergeant, she matriculated at the University of Miami where she earned her Bachelor of Business Administration and met her life's companion, C.B. Following their marriage, Rose worked at Holston Ordinance before starting her family and becoming a full time homemaker. Following her husband's transfer to South Carolina, Rose taught accounting in a variety of schools, both public and private.

Ultimately she earned her MBA from the Citadel in Charleston, SC and was an accounting instructor at East Tennessee State University for many years. Regardless of anything she accomplished, she was first and foremost a wife, mother and grandmother. Rose was a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Johnson City for more than forty years and served as church treasurer, among other functions. She was elected Woman of the Year during one year at Covenant.

Survivors include her husband of 67 years, C.B. Willis, Jr. of Johnson City; a daughter, Carol Willis Neas and husband Ronnie Neas, of Greene County, TN; and two sons, Steven Charles Willis and his wife Angela, of Monetta, SC, and Dr. Robert Clayton Willis and his wife Pattie, of Modoc, SC. Also left to celebrate the home going are 27 grandchildren and great grandchildren. She loved and was loved by all.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Covenant Presbyterian Church, 603 Sunset Drive, Johnson City, TN 37605.

Memories and condolences may be shared at

Tetrick Funeral & Cremation Services 3001 Peoples Street Johnson City TN 37604 (423-610-7171) is honored to serve the Willis family during this difficult time.

Johnson City Press Videos