In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Edgar Willis
"U-M Pioneer Broadcaster Academia"


Feb 03, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Age 100, Edgar E. Willis, an emeritus professor of communication at the University of Michigan, died of a stroke on Saturday, January 25, 2014.

A Canadian native, Professor Willis and his family emigrated to Detroit in 1920. After graduating from high school in 1930, Edgar worked for a year-and-a-half for the Hupp Motor Company and then, when the company went bankrupt, he enrolled in what is now Wayne State University, where he earned a B.A. in history in 1935 and an M.A. in speech, in 1936. In 1940 the University of Wisconsin granted him a Ph.D. After finishing his B.A. degree, he was employed by the Radio Department of the Detroit Public Schools as a producer, writer, and director of educational radio programs, most of which were broadcast to children in schools. With two years off in 1938-1940 to attend the University of Wisconsin, he worked in the Radio Department in Detroit from 1935 to 1943 when he volunteered for service in the U.S. Navy.

In 1946, Edgar began his career as a university teacher, first at Wayne State University and then at San Jose State College and Stanford University in California. In 1952, the University of Michigan invited him to join its faculty where he remained until his retirement in 1984. During ten of those years he served as the chairman of the Speech Communications and Theatre Department. He wrote some fifty articles for scholarly journals and was the author or co-author of five textbooks in his field.

Read full obituary here.

View an interview with Dr. Willis below.