Birth Date: 10/05/1925
Deceased Date: 05/24/2020
Willa was born on October 5, 1925 to the late William Arthur Thompson and Rebecca Burgess Thompson in Unaka, N.C. She was preceded in death by her husband Richard Hampton Crocker, eldest son Donald Earl Crocker, brother, Brance Thompson, sister Edna Carden. Willa is survived by: sister Marcella Blair, daughter-in-law Jeong Sook Crocker (Donald), son George Allen Crocker (Carolyn), son William Arthur Crocker (Wilma), daughter Sylvia Zita Crocker Henry (Sam), daughter Barbara Lynn Crocker Boyette (Ken), granddaughter, Donna Elizabeth Arnold (Scott), granddaughter Lynda Carol O’Neal (Mark), grandson George Allen Crocker Jr., grandson Waylon Garrett Crocker, grandson Will Lloyd Smith (Maria), granddaughter Ashley Nell Henry, grandson Gray Hamilton Henry (Tina), grandson Dustin Lee Boyette; great grandchildren, Tyler Arnold (Molly), Austin Arnold (Sydney), Morgan Arnold, Connor Arnold, Cassidy Arnold, Kylee O’Neal, Alysa Smith, Nathaniel Smith, Lily Ann Joyner, Marley Gray Joyner; great great grandchildren, Lacey Mae Arnold and Billie Anne Arnold. Surviving also are many loving nieces and nephews. Willa grew up in the mountains of North Carolina near the Tennessee border. Her parents were very hard working mountain folks. They grew, canned and dried food that was stored in an underground cellar. Her father built a beautiful stone springhouse which housed a natural spring for their drinking water. Her father had a car and often helped neighbors to travel to the doctor and to town for supplies. He owned and operated a general store for many years and also delivered mail on horseback. Willa attended Morganton School for the Deaf, a boarding school, and she traveled by train to enjoy visits back home during the summer months. During that time, she would help her mother pick fruits and berries to make jams, ride horses with her brother and swim with her siblings and friends in the nearby lake. At school she excelled in swimming and diving and won various medals. In addition to academic skills, she was taught to manage a household including how to cook and sew. She met her future husband, Richard Crocker, at a school party. They were married and lived in Charlotte for a while during World War II. During that time she worked as a seamstress and in a factory that processed munitions. Their first child, Donald, was born there. They then moved near Pine Level, to live on the Crocker family farm. Four more children were born, Allen, Arthur, Sylvia, and Barbara. The skills she learned at Morganton School for the Deaf were valuable as she excelled in managing a large household. She made the best biscuits, fried chicken, cakes, apple turnovers, Christmas candy and fruitcake. Her sons were proficient hunters, and Willa cooked many wonderful meals with wild game. Willa was an expert swimmer and taught her children how to swim at an early age in the nearby Sam’s pond. Willa enjoyed sewing and making dresses for her daughters including Barbara’s wedding gown and the bridesmaid’s gowns. She enjoyed quilting and crocheting and made her children and grandchildren keepsake quilts and afghans. Willa was proud that her children grew up to be very independent and high achievers in school and in their careers. She was honored that her three sons served our country in Vietnam. Willa’s fair complexion, vibrant red hair, and striking blue eyes garnered her many compliments throughout her life. Willa was determined to obtain her driver’s license and achieved that goal while in her fifties. She loved fishing at the ocean and spent many days at the N.C. beaches. Willa and Richard had a huge garden and they processed the vegetables for the winter months. During the summers she worked on the family farm and neighboring farms barning tobacco, picking cotton and cucumbers. She loved flowers, animals, and traveling. Willa enjoyed making picnic baskets full of homemade fried chicken, potato salad, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cookies to carry on the family’s many trips to the mountains to see her relatives. The family would stop to picnic at one of the beautiful mountain overlooks. She adored the mountains and always longed to move back to her beloved Unaka. Willa had many friends in the deaf community and enjoyed visiting them. She loved God and for many years she attended the Pine Level Missionary Baptist Church. She was very upset two years ago when her beloved dog, Brody, went missing. He was her faithful companion. Last year her son Donald passed away. She was devastated by this loss. Willa lived a long and important life. She instilled her love for life, integrity, good manners, and the desire to excel in her children. Her legacy will live on through her children and their descendants. A grave side service will be held June 13, 2020 at 2 PM in the Crocker Cemetery in Pine Level, NC . In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pine Level Missionary Baptist Church in Pine Level, NC and to the Johnston County Animal Shelter in Smithfield, NC.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at Parrishfh.com