Published: December 9, 2008
Morgan Willis, auctioneer, 80, died peacefully with his family by his side on December 7 in the York (Maine) Hospital.
Morgan was born October 22, 1928, in La Grange, Ga. He joined the Coast Guard and worked as a lighthouse keeper, attending to several Maine lighthouses, including Whaleback and Nubble Light. He met his wife by phone as she was an operator who talked to him during his solitary stint at Whaleback.
They settled in Eliot, where they raised their family. He opened Model Upholstery in Portsmouth, N.H., in 1952 and dabbled in antiques. In 1970, he attended a benefit auction where the auctioneer became ill. Because of his involvement in local politics, he was asked to fill in at the last minute †a chance event that would spark the beginning of a new career.
Morgan ran auctions at several locations in the Portsmouth area in the 1970s, then built and operated Seaboard Auction Gallery on Route 236 in Eliot until his retirement in the late 1980s. He ran more than 40 estate auctions in the first year at Seaboard.
He was a character larger than life, known for his honesty and sense of humor. Besides the many finds over the years, his auctions were entertaining in a small town, and many attendees just came for that. He loved to auction and had a passion for the auction business that he shared with his son Martin Willis, who remains active in the auction business.
Morgan retired to Georgia in 1986 and came back to Maine in 2000 as he missed family, friends and the coastline that he had grown to love over the years. On most days you would hear him say how much he missed the business. He always had time to tell an auction tale or two.
He will be dearly missed by family and friends. The family includes daughters Debra Willis of Los Alamos, N.M. and Heidi Willis of Portland, Maine, and son Martin Willis of Tiburon, Calif.
Viewing will be 9 am on Wednesday, December 10, at J.S. Pelkey Funeral Home, 125 Old Post Road, Kittery, Maine, and an 11 am service will be conducted at United Methodist Church on Route 236 in Eliot. Memorial donations may be made to National Parkinson Foundation, 1501 NW 9th Avenue/Bob Hope Road, Miami FL 33136; www.parkinson.org, 305-243-6666 or 800-327-4545.
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