Willis “Willie” Arthur Stittsworth, age 93, of Bemidji, Minnesota passed away on February 25th, 2023.
A celebration of life will be held at First Lutheran Church in Bemidji, MN on Saturday, June 10th at 10:30 am, with a memorial to follow.
Willie and his twin brother Wallace “Wally” were born on May 26th, 1929 to Willis Arch and Madge Marie (Momyer) Stittsworth in Knoxville, Iowa. He attended grade schools in Cherokee, Osage, Nashua and Knoxville, Iowa and graduated from Ankeny High School in 1947.
Willie went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education at Bemidji State University. As an avid fisherman, he spent his summers guiding fishing tours for his family’s resorts on Leech Lake. Following graduation, he proudly served his country in the United States Army from 1953-1955.
On August 10th, 1957, Willie married the love of his life, Arla Mae Spillum in Buxton, North Dakota. They were blessed with three children: Corey, Kirby, and Clay.
Willie later went on to pursue his Master’s Degree in Education at the University of North Dakota and some additional post graduate work at Northern Colorado University, North Dakota State University, Moorhead State University, the University of North Dakota, and Bemidji State University.
Willie began his first job at Hancock High School as a Physical Education Teacher and Coach, kickstarting a 37 year career in education, including his time as a distinguished faculty member within the Professional Education and Health/Physical Education Department at Bemidji State University from 1967-89, earning many accolades and awards along the way. Among his proudest achievements however, was the success of his students.
After his retirement, Willie spent his free time fishing, camping, reading, traveling the United States, assisting his sons with promoting their family meat business (Stittsworth Meats), supporting local events, and spending time with his grandchildren.
Willie was one of a kind and was deeply involved in his community, promoting not only the Stittsworth Brat business but also all things Bemidji State University. He could be seen at most Bemidji Beaver sporting events, wearing his Beaver green apparel. His love for the University was apparent and he loved to promote the Bemidji Beavers to everyone, which eventually earned him a spot within the Bemidji State University Hall of Fame in 2017 and the title of “The Golden Beaver.” Willie was an active supporter and member of Bemidji State University Foundation and Alumni Association, the American Legion, Elk’s Lodge, Fraternal Order of the Eagle’s, Sons of Norway, and First Lutheran Church.
Willie is survived by his wife of 65 years, Arla Stittsworth; his children Corey (Diana) Stittsworth, Kirby (Wendy) Stittsworth, and Clay Stittsworth (Jody Duff); his grandchildren Mychal (Danielle) Stittsworth, Casey (Justin) Motto, Laura (Eric) Heilman, and Bailey (Matt) Backstrom; and his great grandchildren Sophie and Willie Stittsworth and Nels Heilman. Willie was preceded in death by his parents Willis and Madge Stittsworth, his sister Willa Elizabeth “Bette” Rasche, his twin brother Wallace “Wally” Stittsworth, and his grandson Dustin Stittsworth.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the following places in his honor:
The Willie Stittsworth Scholarship. Recipients of this award are students enrolled at Bemidji State University, pursuing a career in Education with emphasis in Developmental Adapted Physical Education. Checks can be made out to the Bemidji State University Foundation at 1500 Birchmont Drive #17, Bemidji, MN 56601
First Lutheran Church of Bemidji
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