Noel Woodward Willis


December 17, 1925 - January 2, 2020

Noel W. Willis, age 94, passed away on January 2, 2020. Noel was born in Central City, NE, the only child of Pearl (Woodward) and Arthur Willis. Noel graduated from Central City High School and attended the University of Nebraska. After passing the Navy V12 entrance exams he was assigned to the civil engineering program at Iowa State in Ames, IA. By his 21st birthday he had his BS in Civil Engineering and was an Ensign in the Navy.

Noel’s first engineering job was with American Bridge Company in Trenton, NJ. While in Trenton Noel met his first wife, Jean Snook, and they started their family there. As Noel progressed in his career, he became the Chief Bridge Engineer for Philadelphia. Later he moved to Iowa City, Iowa where he joined Powers and Associates which soon became Powers-Willis and Associates. In addition to his engineering firm, he taught in the University of Iowa College of Engineering for 12 years. At age 50, Noel returned to school for an MBA, then started his own engineering consulting firm, NNW, Inc. He also was an adjunct Visiting Professor in the U of I College of Business for 16 years. Throughout his career Noel was professionally active serving on the Iowa Board of Engineering Examiners and chairing the national committee to develop the Materials Examinations for Professional Engineers. He was recognized with a Distinguished Service Certificate by the National Council of Examinations for Engineers.

Noel was an almost seventy-year Mason and was awarded the 33rd degree in the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. He was a member/chair of the Board of Trustees of the Grand Charity Board of the Iowa Grand Lodge of Iowa Free and Accepted Masons. He was also Trustee/Administrating Officer of the Iowa Scottish Rite Educational Fund. He served as Iowa’s Grand Treasurer in 1993-94.

Following retirement in 1992 Noel and his wife Jayne Wylie Willis moved to Sun City West, AZ. He was elected to the board of PORA in 1995 and served as First Vice President and President. He was in the Leadership West class of 1997. He served on the West Valley Symphony Board for six years including one as President. At Sun Health Noel was a member of the Planning Committee and member/Chair of the Building and Grounds Committee for ten years overseeing millions of dollars of construction at Boswell and Del E. Webb Hospitals. At Benevilla Noel played many different roles from serving on major committees to grocery shopping.

Noel was a lifelong Presbyterian serving in many capacities including Elder and Deacon. He found a special calling as a Stephen Minister at Desert Palms Presbyterian Church where he had seven care receivers, some for several years each. He also served as a small group facilitator within the Stephen Ministry group.

Noel married Jane Wolfe Albrecht in 2003. They shared many happy years of involvement with community and church activities, travel, parties and dances at the country club, puzzles, and reading.

Noel is survived by his wife Jane, son Craig (Nancy) of Iowa City, IA, daughters Nancy Keyes (Paul Holbrook) of Williamsburg, VA, Patricia Vincent of Minneapolis, Karen Allen of Minneapolis, grandchildren Erica and Will Keyes, and Jennifer Willis. He also leaves stepson Bill Albrecht (Anne Ledvina) and step grandchildren Hallo and Ziggy Albrecht of Detroit, MI.

A Celebration of Life for Noel will be held January 24, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. at Desert Palms Presbyterian Church in Sun City West. Memorials may be made to Benevilla, Surprise, AZ.