William John Willis was born Nov. 6, 1890, in Nova Scotia. He came to Alberta in 1914, and married Christina Hedin (born in Sweden, Jan. 23, 1898). They were married in Coalhurst June 26, 1916. They have two sons.
Bill worked in the mine as a tipple engineer from 1916 to 1935, the year of the explosion. In 1925, Bill and Christina began the Coalhurst General Store and Christina operated the store while Bill worked in the mine.
They also had an ice cream parlor where tables and chairs were set up for those enjoying various dishes of ice cream, banana splits, and sodas.
Bill served on the board of Coalhurst Water Users Association and the local School Board. He was also a member of the Coalhurst Independent Order of Oddfellows.
Christina was a member of the Coalhurst Rebekah Lodge and served as Noble Grand of the Royal Rebekah Lodge #85 of Coalhurst in 1928.
Both boys attended the Coalhurst Elementary and High School.
In 1934 the general store was destroyed by fire along with several businesses. They did manage to save the ice cream machine, some tables, and chairs and some of the grocery stock. When the fire was out, they found the stock that they had saved had disappeared. After the fire a new store was built. The store became a gathering place for most of the men folk, in winter around the pot-belly stove and, in summer, sitting in front of the store outside. During the depression Bill would also cut hair in the back of the store.
In 1957, Bill and Christina sold their business after thirty-two years. In January, 1958, Bill passed away. That summer Christina sold her home and moved to Lethbridge. She lived in her own home till 1979.
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