Willis M. Markham

Willis Merle Markham, 94, of Rochester, passed away on Thursday, July 9, 2020 at Edenbrook of Rochester.

Willis was born June 7, 1926 in Rochester, MN to Daniel and Grace (Mills) Markham. He and his siblings grew up in old southwest Rochester in a home on the edge of Soldiers Field Park. After graduating high school, Willis attended the University of Minnesota for 1 year before switching to the American Academy of Art in Chicago, majoring in fashion design. He worked for Eisenberg Jewelry Inc. for 36 years, beginning in their clothing company and eventually managing the jewelry operations. Willis often commented how much he enjoyed Eisenberg and how he looked forward to working there every day. He lived in Chicago for most of his career and then several years in Los Angeles, before retiring and moving back to Rochester in 1982 to take care of his mother.

Willis enjoyed family gatherings, especially when they included dining at Michael’s Restaurant or Bunny’s Coconut Cake. He created many beautiful Christmas ornaments and intricate needlepoint canvases as some of his creative hobbies. He loved antiques, beautiful architecture, fashion design, classical music and operas. Willis will be remembered for his love for his cats.

Willis is survived by nieces, Jan (Tom) Adams, Suzanne (Pete) Graham, Leslie (Roy) Olsen, Becky Kees, and Tami (Jeff) Fletcher; nephews, Paul (Ruth) Markham, Bruce (Kathy) Markham, David Markham, Danny (Mary Carol) Markham, Tom Tennant, and Tracy Tennant; sisters-in-law, Nedra Jo and Sonya Markham; many great nieces and great nephews and a host of other family and friends. Willis was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Richard and Stanley Markham and sister, Ellen Brannick.

A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.

Arrangements entrusted to Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes.

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