Lois Willson was born in Hoopa on January 8, 1923, the eldest of four daughters born to John Gustav Strand and Adelaide Isabell Strand. She transitioned at Hospice House in Eureka on April 25, 2019 at the age of 96. She is survived by five children, Wayne Reel of Palm Springs, California, Arlene Mullin of Tallahassee, Florida, John Reed of Vancouver, Washington, Raymond Reel of Eureka, and Heidi Leonard of Idaho City, Idaho, their partners/spouses, 12 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her stepchildren, David and Barbara Willson, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Lois was raised in Trinity County and developed a deep love for nature, music and people. Her paternal grandmother, Theresa Janousek of Prague, appropriately called her Beauty. She attended Chico State, and years later, Chabot Community College in Hayward, California. She played both piano and violin, and sang, often with her sisters, Helen, Doris and Joan.

She married Albert Louis Reel of Shasta, in October 1945 in Oakland. The couple lived in Berkeley and in Oakland before buying a home in San Lorenzo. Lois became active in the San Lorenzo Community church, became a deacon and advisor to Pilgrim Fellowship, a teen group. She continued her love of music by singing in the church choir.

She returned to college, majored in Early Childhood Education, and created the popular San Lorenzo Community Church Nursery School Program. She went on to create two other successful Nursery School programs, the last at the Naval Air Station in Alameda. She was asked to teach at Chabot College and to create other Naval Nursery School programs. She declined both opportunities in order to balance career and family.

She married Howard Stanley Willson in March 1966, adding Howard’s children, David and Barbara, to their blended family. Lois and Howard were heavily involved in The Flying Fins swimming program. The couple moved to Eureka in early 1979. A hundred and fifty San Lorenzo people showed up to say goodbye to the family.

In Eureka, Lois continued her membership with the United Congregational Christian Church and as an Emeritus, was involved in its governing body. She continued singing in the choir.

Before developing macular degeneration in 1988, Lois relaxed by knitting and quilting. She met this loss of vision with her usual courage, humor and determination, and began crocheting beautiful afghans desired by many. She crocheted afghans for each of her children and for several grandchildren and great grandchildren. Family was always her first love and priority.

She was interested on the journey within, always looking for fresh inner truths. She was, at heart, a philosopher and a woman of style and substance.     

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” Lois helped everyone she met breathe easier.

Services will be held at the United Congregational Christian Church at Hodgson and J Street in Eureka, California on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 3 p.m.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Lois WIllson’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.