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Wallis remembered as storyteller, historian and Sandwich benefactor

RWallis Sandwich Illinois.

Ron Wallis of Sandwich, Illinois.

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Updated: March 18, 2013 6:47AM

SANDWICH – The morning coffee klatch at the McDonald’s Restaurant on Route 34 here won’t be the same.

That’s because one of the key members, Ronald D. Wallis, won’t be there.

Wallis, 78, a lifetime Sandwich resident who was a storyteller, historian, friend and town benefactor, died Wednesday at Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich.

“He was a communicator, with everyone,” said Bob Jones, a friend of Wallis for more than 40 years — and one of those other regulars at the McDonald’s coffee klatsch. “It didn’t matter if you were young or old.

“I would see Ron every morning. Ron would go from table to table. He knew everybody. He always made it a point to get around to all his friends.”

Jones and Wallis worked together at Allsteel Inc. in Montgomery for years, and Jones moved into Sandwich more than 40 years ago. They shared membership in the Sandwich Lions Club, and Jones said just this week he was looking at a membership list and noting that Wallis had perfect attendance at the club for 48 years.

“That’s great devotion,” Jones said.

Wallis’ devotion was not limited to the Lions Club. He was one of the first presidents of the Sandwich Sports Booster Club, an association he kept long after his own children had passed through Sandwich High School. Wallis was himself a 1952 graduate of Sandwich High.

He also kept up his work in the Franklin Mall Christmas Project, which was started by his in-laws, Franklin and Peg Mall, and eventually became part of the Lions Club.

The project collects food and distributes it to families in need at Christmas time.

“They always considered Christmas time a holy day, and they thought people should have something to eat,” said Tom Thomas, longtime Sandwich mayor, and a relative of Wallis.

“He was kind of a man’s man,” Thomas said of Wallis. “You always knew where you stood with him. He was well-respected for his opinions.”

Wallis was a town historian, the kind who could “tell you who lived where when, or what was on what lot in town,” Jones said. “He knew the names of everyone, even people who came before him, because he studied.”

Wallis also had served as Sandwich Township supervisor, being appointed and then winning election for the position.

He later worked part-time at the Sandwich Opera House, and spent many years mowing city property.

Wallis is survived by his wife, Patricia, a Sandwich native and a longtime correspondent for The Beacon-News. They had two sons, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the United Church of Sandwich, 512 Lions Road. A visitation will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Burkhart-Eighner Funeral Home, 606 W. Arnold Road, Sandwich.

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