The ceremony in the historic courthouse included a reception, presentation of an engraved clock, and remarks.
Ruth Ann Hutson, county registrar, noted that during Willis’s term of service, the county has had three registrars (Harriett Hudgins, Jeanette Tomlinson and herself); seen its electorate grow from 4,720 to 6,800 registered voters; moved from 700-pound mechanical voting machines to the current lightweight, computerized touch-screen machines; and entrusted him and his board and officials "to conduct elections honestly and fairly," regardless of which political party is in power.
Bert Cross, vice chairman of the electoral board, commented on the years he has known the Willis family and its dedication to public service (Leslie Willis’s wife Wilnet was a long-term member of the school board). Fellow member Josie Thorpe said that when she joined the electoral board, Willis made sure she knew the duties and that at conventions she met the state officials with whom she would be working.
Willis expressed gratitude to fellow board members, election officials and those with whom he worked in the past "for making my job so easy." He said that Mathews County "is the finest place to be" and that it has been a pleasure "to serve the citizens of Mathews." He greeted each member of the large group that turned out to honor him.