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Celebrating the life of

John Rockwell Willard

January 01, 1944 - July 04, 2024

John Rockwell Willard

John Rockwell Willard passed away peacefully on Thursday, July 4th, at home in Savannah, Georgia.

John, aka Rocky, was a “Giant” of a man! He was smart, magnanimous and big hearted with a smile and a handshake for everyone. His brilliant mind led him in many aspects of his life. A fierce competitor, he was an exceptional athlete excelling at a young age in football and baseball, and then golf later in life.

Growing up in West Hartford, Connecticut, Rocky graduated from Kingswood Oxford School and went on to Colgate University. He played semi-pro football for the Charter Oaks while at Uconn Law School and was drafted to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but chose to play football for the New York Giants.

Rocky completed his 4 years in the Air Force JAG Corps during the Vietnam War. He practiced Law at various law firms and as a real estate entrepreneur with all of its ups and downs. He co-owned several restaurants in CT and cherished lifelong relationships with steadfast partners of some 40+ years.

Rocky was a hands on and beloved stepfather to Perry and Elisabeth Bartol. He fostered positivity and a love for athletics, and demonstrated a strong work ethic. His personality was magnetic and his free spirited approach to life kept everyone on their toes.

In 2001, John and his wife Tanis moved South to Savannah. He continued to tackle business projects until suffering strokes in 2005. Although now confined to a wheelchair he was still larger than life. Whether you knew him from his long tricycle rides through the Landings, his pool walks or trips to the fitness center his smile was infectious. His grit, determination and fortitude was on full display. John will be missed and leaves behind a legacy of love, inspiration, and generosity.

 John is survived by his loving wife, Tanis, children Perry (Charlotte), Elisabeth (Peter) and Blair (Angie) and seven beautiful grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to


And now, the end is near

And so I face the final curtain

My friend, I’ll say it clear

I'll state my case, of which I'm certain

I've lived a life that's full I traveled each and every highway

And more, much more than this I did it my way



Well what can I say.. what an amazing Man! Although I only knew John for 12 years I have some very fond memories of my time with him. We would go every week to Sam’s Club he loved tasting the samples as he wheeled round the aisles. Then we’d go get pizza ( his favorite) with a fruit sundae.. extra fruit! Although he was in a wheelchair it stopped him from wanting to go somewhere Sit fit at the fitness center , he laughed to much as he moved his legs to the beat of the music . He loved the dog park , everyone loved him and chatted about sports and politics He looked forward to that every week . It was a great pleasure taking him out to run errands and walk the dogs , mine sometimes came with us and sat on his lap Zara walked beside him . I’m going to miss him terribly, with his huge smile , we laughed a lot Later Gator John rest in peace Kay

- Kay Gulick, Savannah, Georgia

I know the deep love and respect you had for John. You shared with me the joy and strength he brought to your life. Anyone fortunate enough to be in his orbit felt the same infusion of strength and joy. I vividly remember the first time I met him—I was probably still a teenager and was immediately struck by how approachable, fun, and loving he was from the start. That never changed. We will truly miss him. He was, and will continue to be, an inspiration.

- Lucy, Austin, TX

Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel