Willis was born on March 15, 1923, to Steini and Loa (Swainson) Bjornson. She spent her childhood on the Bjornson farmstead northeast of Mountain, ND. She graduated from Cavalier High School in 1941.
During WWII, Willis worked at an airplane factory on the West Coast. After the war, she spent 33 years at Pembina County Memorial Hospital as a nurse's aide and ward clerk doing what she did best—helping people.
On November 17, 1947, Willis married the love of her life, Claire Busse, in Cavalier. Together they raised three children, Dale, Mike, and Jule.
In 2017, Willis moved to Borg Pioneer Memorial Home in Mountain, ND. She enjoyed many great days there and loved to visit with her friends. In 2019, she moved to Maple Manor Care Center in Langdon, ND, where she lived out the rest of her days.
In her later years, Willis could be found on her back porch with a cup of strong black coffee and a dog curled up at her feet. She enjoyed spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Willis was loved by everyone who met her. She usually had some feisty words at the ready whenever she saw someone she knew, and never hesitated following up those words with a hug and a hearty laugh. She loved her family fiercely and they remember her fondly as the best caretaker. She was tough as nails, but had the kindest heart. She had a quick wit and a wonderful sense of humor right up until the end.
Willis proudly embraced her Icelandic heritage, and one could frequently find her in the kitchen making delicious treats to share with family and friends. She always had something sweet and a cup of coffee waiting for whoever might show up—lucky for her, she enjoyed plenty of visitors. Willis also loved her “girls” at Borg and Maple Manor, the workers and caretakers and friends who helped keep her spry and shared lots of laughter with her. Known as “Amma” or “Ammie” by most everyone, Willis loved the special attention she received. She was a force to be reckoned with, and will be dearly missed by many.
Surviving Willis are her children, Mike (Linda), Dale (Elizabeth) and Jule (Frank Quinn).Grandchildren: Jackie (Derek) Huff, Ian (Faith Anderson), Dale Eric (Melissa), Jenni, and Kristina Busse, Charity Stegman, Courtney (Cory) Mortensen and honorary grandson Matty Tate-Smith (Damien). Great grandchildren: Gibson and Baylor Busse, Charlize Earhart, Ericka Lawonn, Claire, Hadlee and Rayce Mortensen, and Kingston Tate-Smith. Along with many nieces and nephews. Preceding her in death were her husband, Claire; parents Steini and Loa, brother Magnus (Mike), sister Lorraine Schroeder, and nephew Devin Bjornson.