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Selections from the Willis Collection

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portrait of small girlLieutenant Colonel Robert Henry Willis, Jr., son of Robert Henry and Jessie Willis, was born in Williston, South Carolina in 1886. He was the first honor graduate of the Citadel in 1908. Henry Willis became interested in aviation in 1912 and learned to fly in San Diego, California. In December 1913 he received a Military Aviator's Certificate from the War Department. In August 1917 Willis was commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson as Lieutenant in the United States Signal Corps, and in February 1918 as Major of Infantry.

Henry Willis died by accidental discharge of a pistol near the city of Remiremont, France, on September 13, 1918. His father received a letter from General John J. Pershing who had recently appointed Willis to be Chief of Air Service at the Headquarters of the Seventh Army Corps. General Pershing praised the service of Henry Willis as an aviator and as an army officer.

Willis Collection Preservation Project

In 2005 Steve Fincher Photography received the Friends of the South Carolina Libraries Business Award. Steve Fincher Photography was nominated by the Friends of the Spartanburg County Public Libraries for its contribution in preserving "the priceless pictorial history of Spartanburg." Steve Fincher and assistant Carroll Foster were involved in the preservation project for over 2 years.

An exhibit, Willis, "Lost and Found," was presented by Steve Fincher Photography and the Spartanburg County Public Libraries in June 2005. The firm donated 70 photographs from the exhibit to the Headquarters Library.

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The Willis Collection is kept in the Kennedy Room vault and may be viewed in person upon request. Copies from the collection may be purchased, with certain restrictions.

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