LaSalle Folklorist died last Saturday


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Ruby Taylor Streetman, 90, of Jena, passed peacefully from this life on Thursday, October 11, 201

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Roy Arthur Mercer, 76, of Joyce, passed from this life on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at his home

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sarah B.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wilma Breithaupt, 90, of Jena, passed from this life on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at the LaSalle

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Ella Ruth Dotson, 78, of Jena, passed from this life on Tuesday, October 2, 2018, at the Rapides

Jack Morgan Willis, 81, of Jena, passed from this life last Saturday, December 9, 2017, at the LaSalle Nursing Home of Jena.

He was born March 26, 1936 in Good Pine to the union of his parents, Albert and Alice Graham Willis.

Jack was a proclaimed “LaSalle Folklorist” and was a longtime columnist for The Jena Times, writing two columns – a weekly column named “Grass Roots and Cockleburs”, as well as a monthly feature titled, “Woodlands and Waterways Echoes”.

Jack also wrote folklore and personality pieces for many years for The Piney Woods Journal of Dodson.

Jack was a longtime storyteller from Jena, spinning his yarns, weaving historical fact with legendary tales from the people who have lived off Catahoula Lake and the land for hundreds of years.

Willis was born in Good Pine, a sawmill town, in 1936. Good Pine and Jena, roughly 20 miles north of Catahoula Lake, was the home of one of Willis’ grandfathers who had been a ‘market hunter’ earlier in life, killing waterfowl, packing them in brine, and shipping them to fancy restaurants in Baton Rouge.

Later in life, he was a stock tenderer for Good Pine Lumber Company. Willis’ other grandfather was a railroad track contractor who built one line to within a mile of Catahoula Lake.

Willis attended Southwestern Louisiana University (currently called the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), in Lafayette, in the early 1950s. He dropped out of college to work pipeline-engineering crews, and spent over 20 years as an inspector/surveyor for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

At the age of 53, Willis went back to college and acquired a B.S. degree in addictive disease counseling. After 15 years as a counselor, he was granted a judicial disability, retired, and began to compile stories, tales, yarns and true facts relating to that Grand Lady known as Catahoula Lake.

Several years ago Willis wrote and released a book, “Catahoula Lake Chronicles” – the first book of its kind that described in detail the history of Catahoula Lake, along with some of its colorful legends and folklore.

Failing health forced Jack into the LaSalle Nursing Home several years ago, but he continued his writing as his health allowed.

Funeral arrangements for Willis were incomplete at press time on Monday.

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