Breeze-Courier | Taylorville, IL
weather sponsored by
Breeze-Courier




Advanced Search
search sponsored by


LOGIN | SUBSCRIBE




KMRM

home : news : state news free February 6, 2016

   
7/7/2014 1:50:00 PM
After tragedy, Willis family find musical fame

CHICAGO (AP) — Two decades after six children died in a van crash that led to the investigation and later corruption conviction of then Illinois Gov. George Ryan, the family’s next generation is making a musical name for itself.

The 12 grandchildren of the Rev. Duane “Scott” Willis and Janet Willis have appeared on “America’s Got Talent.” They range in age from 3 to 22 and specialize in Irish music.

The Willis’ family was at the center of Illinois politics in the 1990s. Now the Tennessee-based young members of “The Willis Clan” are earning a musical reputation. They are the children of Toby Willis, whose siblings died in the 1994 crash.

Toby Willis, 44, and his wife Brenda Willis, say the older Willis couple is “proud grandparents.”

“I think they want to show people a positive side,” Brenda Willis told the Chicago Sun-Times (http://bit.ly/1sng7o6 ). “It’s been very tragic and very negative over all these years. I think they’re very excited about putting a positive spin on the story and showing the beautiful things that have come since then and how the family is strong and together and has been able to pick up the pieces and go on.”

“The Willis Clan” has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and Disney World. They’ve also had a reality show called “The Willis Clan” on the Great American Country cable station.

The six Willis children died when a part fell off a truck, causing the November 1994 accident. Five years later a former trucking company official admitted he paid to fix the driver’s license test. The family later received a $100 million settlement and Ryan served more than five years in prison for corruption.

Toby Willis keeps pictures of his lost brothers and sister in his home today. He said he doesn’t hide the tragedy from his children.

“There’s no way to hide that this is the way life is. That bad things happen and we want them to give them an accurate picture of how the world really is,” Toby Willis said. “We don’t shelter them.”

Jennifer Willis, 19, has written a song in memory of her family members who died called “Road to Watertown.”


Anderson Jewelers




Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

If you are looking for the SPEAK OUT submission form, you can find it by clicking here: Speak Out Form


Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

NOTE: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address will not be displayed or shared.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   












Trinity Dodge Fixed

Larry's Service Center
NewsWebPagesOpinionPeopleObituariesAg & BusinessSportsContact Us
Subscriptions | Username & Password Reminder | Change Password | Life

Breeze-Courier & Printing | 212 S Main St. Taylorville, IL 62568 | (217) 824-2233 |
website@breezecourier.com

© Copyright 2014 Breeze-Courier & Printing. All Rights Reserved.
Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Breeze-Courier & Printing.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved