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Obituary Stories

Greensburg outdoorsman, engineer forged fond memories for family

Patrick Varine
| Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Mark Wills of Greensburg was a reserved, soft-spoken man.

“He wasn't a social butterfly, so when he made friends with someone, it was a deep and meaningful friendship,” said his elder son, Aaron, 35, of Cranberry.

Mark E. Wills of Greensburg died Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, of complications from heart disease. He was 62.

Mr. Wills was born Feb. 21, 1955, in Altoona to Eugene and Hilda Holtz Wills. He was a graduate of Altoona High School and earned an associate degree from Penn State's Altoona and main campuses. He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Point Park University and spent 36 years as a nuclear engineer for Westinghouse.

Mr. Wills began dating his future wife, Kathleen, when they were in high school. They went to a local drive-in on their first date.

“I think maybe we saw ‘Blazing Saddles,' ” Kathleen said.

Kathleen said her husband's background as an engineer came through in his life away from the job.

“He had that personality through and through,” she said. “His life was organized to a tee: things were alphabetized, and everything had its place.”

Mr. Wills was a hunter and fisherman, a member of the Youngwood Sportsmen's Association, and he enjoyed returning to his old hunting grounds in the Altoona area.

“He was an avid outdoorsman,” Aaron said. “Green Springs in Blair County was a favorite spot.”

Mr. Wills' younger son agreed.

“All my uncles and cousins would go together,” said Jordan Wills, 31, of Greensburg. “We'd chat on walkie-talkies every hour, see how everyone was doing. And we went up to Erie a lot to fish for steelhead.”

Mr. Wills' brother Eric said his brother was very generous with his nieces and nephews.

“He gave my youngest daughter a rifle to hunt with,” said Eric Wills of Altoona. “She just started this year. He knew his health was deteriorating, and that was something he really wanted to do.”

The family also took regular vacations to Virginia Beach and had an annual fall tradition of renting a cabin in Cook Forest.

“That's been about a 25-year family tradition,” Aaron said.

Mr. Wills was a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but not necessarily the Steelers.

“He was more of a Packers fan than a Steelers fan,” Aaron said. “In fact, in the obituary photo, he's wearing his Green Bay hat.”

He was also a lifelong Penn State fan. Aaron said he has countless memories of sitting with his father listening to Penn State games on the radio.

“I broadcast high school football games now, and I feel like that interest definitely came from those memories,” he said.

Mr. Wills is survived by his wife, Kathleen A. Elder Wills; two sons, Aaron J. Wills of Cranberry Township and Jordan (Tara) Wills of Greensburg; and daughter Haley Wills of Greensburg.

Friends will be received from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Barnhart Funeral Home, 505 E. Pittsburgh St., Greensburg. A 1 p.m. funeral service will follow at the funeral home, with interment at St. Clair Cemetery.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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