In memoriam: Clarice Wills, 1916 - 2010

March 9, 2010

Clarice Elizabeth Dechent Wills, 93, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, Feb. 19.

She was a woman of many talents. In 1946, Clarice earned her doctorate from Stanford University in early childhood education and began a long career as an author and educator at universities and colleges around the country, including at Western Washington University.

A loyal and active Democrat and Unitarian, Clarice was a vociferous advocate for fair play, human rights and progressive causes. The founder of Whatcom County's Fourth Corner Folk Dancers, she made music and folk dancing a part of her life wherever she lived around the world.

A native San Franciscan, Clarice married her lifelong love, Wayne Wills of Seattle, in 1946, and they spent 58 years together before Wayne passed in 2006. His Air Force career took them around the country and the world before they retired to Bellingham in 1969.

During their time together, they lived in or visited 58 countries. In retirement, Clarice designed the homes they built in Glacier and Sudden Valley. A talented seamstress and weaver, she also enjoyed cooking, gardening, hiking, foraging for wild berries and mushrooms, and collecting folk art from around the world. She loved life and was a force to be reckoned with.

Clarice is survived by her children, Alicia, Mark and Susan, and her grandchildren, David, Melissa, Opal and Sheleah. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship (BUF) on March 20. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the BUF Women's Alliance. Friends and family can find more information on the service and leave comments or memories of Clarice on her guestbook at