Those Wills Women
by Dayna Wills, 2002

Those Wills girls were Ruby, Eloise, Olga, Helen, and Lorene. (The last child, another sister, Jesse Wayne, died at 18 months of meningitis). Ruby Wills, "daddy’s pretty girl", married Oce Sullivan when she was 14. She had three children, one of whom died just 8 months prior to the death of her husband, who was killed in a car wreck. Widowed at 21, Ruby went to live with Bob and his wife Edna. Later she married Ollie Simerley, and they owned a bar in Tulsa called the Corner Bar. They divorced, but Ruby continued to work in the bar business. She passed away in Tulsa on September 19, 1984, one month prior to the death of her brother, Johnnie Lee Wills.

Eloise Wills House, "Weezie," was the easy going confidant of the sisters. Eloise married Leslie House, and they had two daughters. After her divorce, she remained single. She passed away August 28, 1979, in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

Olga Wills Kerr, according to her sister Lorene, never thought she was pretty. Her sisters were dark-eyed and dark-haired, and she was fair-haired and blue-eyed. Nevertheless, Olga had personality plus and was a wee bit head strong. None of the sisters were allowed to date the Playboys, but Olga hauled off and dated Leon McAuliffe. When their relationship began to get serious, Bob Wills offered Leon a deal: My sister or your job! The rest is history. Olga married Kelly Kerr, and they had two daughters. She was widowed in 1983.

Helen Wills Mckee was a beautiful woman in that helpless, Southern belle sort of way that made everyone want to take care of her. Gentle of heart, and with a great sense of humor, everyone who knew her, loved her. She married Dr. Roy McKee, and they had two children, Jim Rob, named after Bob Wills, and Dayna Gayle.

Lorene Wills Burton, born during the Roaring 20s, had great legs and loved to dance. Brother Bob was very strict about his sisters coming to Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa when he was performing there. Lorene was allowed to go on the condition that she "keep a low profile, and never repeat anything she overheard in the lady’s room." Her sisters claim she was spoiled because she was the baby at home. When she hadn’t married by the time she was 25, "Daddy Papa" called her an "old maid." When she still hadn’t married by the time she was 28, Daddy Papa called her a "damned old maid." She finally married Joe Burton at the ripe old age of 30. After the death of her sister Helen in Las Vegas, in 1969, the Burtons moved back to Tulsa. A few years later they divorced, and Lorene went to work for her brother, Johnnie Lee, in his Western Wear store. After the passing of her sister Olga in Tulsa in 2001, Lorene moved to Shawnee, OK where she lives today.

Emmaline Foley Wills, "Big Ma," was mother to these girls, but they feel she was partial to her boys. Daddy Papa (Uncle John to his friends) was partial to his girls; they were comfortable talking their troubles over with him. Uncle John was a champion fiddle player, and it was by out-playing his rival on a tune called "Sugar in my Coffee," that he won sweet Emmaline’s hand in marriage. Uncle John had a unique way of performing in public; he would hold his fiddle over his head and let go with an "Indian" holler that set him apart from his competitors.

One fiddler was heard to comment, "He didn’t out-fiddle me, he out-hollered me!"