1924 – 2016

LEWISTON — George “Bud” Willette, 91, peacefully passed away Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Lewiston. He was married to Catherine “Kay” Willette, also of Lewiston, on April 24, 1948, and they shared 63 years together. After the passing of his beloved wife in 2011, he experienced several health crises and was lovingly cared for by his son, John.

George was born Nov. 18, 1924, in Kingman, to the late Della and Dennis Willette. He was the fifth child in a family of 15 and is predeceased by brothers Joe, Manzer, John, Bill, Butch and Roland; and sisters, Lorraine Willette, Delia Beaulieu and Gloria Rafferty. When he was 13, the family moved from Kingman to Lewiston. Buddy grew up in the heart of Lewiston during the Great Depression. Ever industrious, he made his way through childhood, helping to support his large family by shining shoes and running errands for local shopkeepers.

Very proud to be an American, George, at the age of 17 joined the U.S. Marine Corps and with boots on the ground, served as a private. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant. George was a Purple Heart recipient and saw action in the Pacific Theatre, making first-wave beach landings in Roi-Namur, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. Surviving his military service, he returned to his home, married the love of his life, Kay Baumann, and settled in Lewiston where they raised seven children. After working in the local mills, he struck out on his own. George became a successful entrepreneur, creating and running several businesses, including Georgio’s in Lewiston, Auburn and Brunswick.

George was an avid gardener and enjoyed time in his greenhouses, yard and Buckfield gardens where he grew vegetables, fruit trees and flowers for his wife. He enjoyed cultivating unusual plants. Using his own formulas of grafting and unconventional botanical techniques, he even managed to raise kiwi plants in Maine.

He loved opera, baseball, inventing, baking and cooking. He experimented with brewing his own beer and wine, using the hops and grapes he grew in the back yard. Always a man to forge his own path, his life was filled with curiosity and humor. He had a penchant for finding feral cats and caring for them. He leaves behind his beloved Siamese cat, Omar.

Bud loved his solitude, but relished the time he spent with his family. He could spin quite a story (true or not), and his seven children waited for their father to come home from work so they could gather round to listen to the tales of his life in the big world. Grandchildren joined their ranks as time went on.

George is survived by his daughters, Cathryn Willette, Annie Albrecht, Denise Willette and JoAnn Willette; and sons, John Willette and wife, Ellen, James Willette and Gregory Willette and partner, Lydia Savage.

He will be missed by his grandchildren, Danny, Annie and Sarah Ohlin, Kate and Tess Albrecht, Alex, Emily, Andrea, Eva, Sonia and Suzanne Weiss, Luca and Cissy Amato, and Jacob, Lizzy and Gracie Willette; and his great-grandchildren, Owen and Kinsley Weiss. His siblings, Lucille Popadak, Pat McNulty, Sandra Willette, Sheila Gattuso and Mike Willette, will carry their brother Buddy in their hearts. Scores of nieces and nephews will think of him often.

George was a devoted husband, father, brother and citizen. He has profoundly touched the lives of all who were lucky enough to have known him. There will never be another man like George Willette. Rest in Peace.

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