Shirley Ann (Porter) Wills, age 86, died at her home in Palm Coast, Florida, on Jan. 24, 2023, surrounded by family and friends.

A former longtime employee of the New Jersey School Boards Association, the Association expresses its condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.

Born in 1936 and raised on a farm in Junction, Illinois, she graduated from Shawneetown Community High School in 1956. She moved to New York City and got a job at the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. She was on the cover of the company’s Home Office magazine, re-enacting her arrival from rural America to New York City, for Metropolitan’s Statistical Bureau cover story.

She met her loving husband, Gerald Milton Wills, in New York City. They were married in 1957. They raised their five children in Levittown, Pennsylvania, and it was during that time she began working for NJSBA, starting as an assistant bookkeeper in 1969.

She had a long tenure at the Association, rising to become its exhibits manager and associate director before retiring in 1993. While at NJSBA, she earned her accreditation as a Certified Exposition Manager from the National Association of Exposition Managers. She once received a letter of commendation for her exhibits work from Ronald Reagan — just prior to his presidency. Each year, she looked forward to coordinating Workshop in Atlantic City.

Following her retirement, she and her husband moved to Palm Coast, Florida. She was as an active member of the United Methodist Church throughout her adult life. She was active with the United Methodist Women, served many leadership roles for her church and often led Bible studies. She was a longtime member of the Eastern Star in Neshaminy, Pennsylvania.

She enjoyed many cruises in her later years and traveled to all parts of the world. She always had a smile that warmed the room. She was warm and friendly with everyone she met.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Gerald Wills; her parents, Clarence Porter and Hattie (Dobbs) Porter; her brother, Harold Porter; and her sister, Juanita (Porter) Oxford. She is survived by her brother, Delmer Porter (and his wife Dolores); sister Dorothy (Porter) Mitchell; children, Keith Wills (and his wife Jo), Brian Wills (and his wife Suely), Barbara (Wills) Dyroff (and her husband Denny), Bruce Wills, Daniel Wills (and his wife Tracy); grandchildren Traci (Wills) Rossi (and her husband Anthony), Wendi Wills (and her fiancé Chuck Bigelow); great grandchildren, Scarlett Rossi and Jade Wills Bigelow; and companion John Santoro.

Visit her obituary for service information, part of which can be watched via livestream. You can also leave condolences online.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be sent to the United Methodist Church of Bunnell, P.O. Box 335, Bunnell FL 32110, with “Shirley Wills Memorial” in the memo of the check.