NORMAN — Claudine “Dena” J. Willis was born Jan. 18, 1929, in Perry, to Claude Herbert and Laura Etta (Nida) Kennedy and was raised in the small town of Lucien. In 1969, she moved to Norman. She went home to be with the Lord Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Norman.
Dena attended grade school in a two room school house in Lucien and later graduated from Perry High School in 1947, where she was PHS Band Queen. After graduation, she attended Oklahoma State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in elementary education in 1951. She continued her education at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, and received a Master of Science in education. Dena was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and the Kappa Delta Pi honorary education fraternity at OSU. In 1950, she was an attendant for the OSU football homecoming royalty.
Dena was a public school teacher for 20 years, teaching two years at Snyder Public Schools and 18 years at Noble Public Schools. She was a member of National Education Association and the Oklahoma Education Association. In March 1992, Dena was named one of the 29th “Oklahoma Best Teachers” in the state of Oklahoma and was honored by channel 5 news television station.
Dena was baptized in Lucien at the First Methodist Church as an infant. On Oct. 20, 1950, she was united in marriage to Fay M. Willis at the First United Methodist Church in Perry, and to this union, three children were born, Ronald, Karen and Kathryn. At the time of her passing, she was a member of the McFarlin Methodist Church in Norman.
Dena was a former member of “Registry” Dinner-Dance Club and “Women of the Moose.” She enjoyed playing the piano and big band music. Dena also loved to dance, play bridge, bird watch and travel.
Dena is survived by two children, Ronald Wayne Willis and his wife Stephanie of Enid and Kathryn Ann Cochran of College Station, Texas; eight grandchildren, Kristin Lind (Josh), Kerri Brackin, Wade Willis (Heather), Allison Pennington (Michael), Kent Cochran (Nicki), Julie Durham (Jason), Carter Cochran (Elyse) and Alexander Kroll; and six great-grandchildren.