Della Elna Lucht Willis passed away peacefully on September 27, 2020 in Chestertown, Maryland, just short of her 95th birthday. Born October 24, 1925 in Lutherville, Maryland to Rudolph and Ruth (Starr) Lucht, she was the second of seven children, and the oldest daughter. Her parents were itinerant farm workers, so the family was continuously on the move.
At the age of 5 Della gathered plants from the woods and her mother made wreaths that she and her brother sold door to door. By the time she was in the 6th grade, Della had attended 12 different schools. The family moved to Kent County in 1937, and there she remained in what she called “God’s Country” for the rest of her life.
As a teenager during WWII, with few young males around to perform manual labor, Della took on the job of a farm hand and had memories of working in the fields alongside German prisoners-of-war. A Kent County News article about how she rescued a man from being gored by a bull always bothered her because the article didn’t mention that the rescuer was a teenage girl.
After graduating from high school in Chestertown, she worked at the local John Deere store, where she met Herbert Arthur (Greenie) Willis. Della and Greenie married in 1947 and bought a small farm in Quaker Neck, which became “The Mini Farm”. There they raised four of their own children, as well as countless others in her unofficial childcare center.
When she wasn’t doing farm work, tending children, bookkeeping for “Willis & Lynch” (Greenie’s small engine repair shop), serving as a precinct worker at elections, writing a social column about Quaker Neck for the newspaper, or researching her family roots, Della wrote poems. These were old-fashioned rhyming poems about real-life situations, from her own unique, humorous, point of view. She wrote poems for birthdays, for her Sunday school class, for weddings – “about anything and anybody, for any reason.”
Despite little formal schooling of her own, Della was a life-long inquirer, and she instilled the value of education in all her children. An essay she wrote about what the flag meant to her was printed in the Congressional Record. She seldom left Kent County but “the world was her oyster”, and her mailbox was her passport. She had pen pals throughout the world and corresponded with Queen Elizabeth, the King of Norway, Hammond Innes, and even First Lady Hillary Clinton.
Della was one of the Lucht Sisters, all of whom settled in the area: Florence Sutton and the late Edna Ross, Dorothy Hickman, Esther Cohey and Mary Myers.
Della’s goal in life was to every day “soothe someone’s soul”. She provided comic relief to grocery store stockers, and even her doctors. Her trademark cookies were on everyone’s wish list. Her flower beds along Quaker Neck Landing Road were annual spectacles that caught passing visitor’s eyes with their striking waves of color. She said, “Flowers are my way of making friends… they are my way of offering a tithe”. Her flowers became floral arrangements for garden clubs, home tours, and local weddings.
Her grandchildren savored her special lima beans and corn on the cob, her willingness to pitch them baseballs well into her eighties. Everyone felt her unconditional love.
She was an active member of the Adult Sunday School Class at Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, where she shared and explored her Christianity and her deep spiritual beliefs.
Della was predeceased by her beloved mother, Ruth Lucht, her husband, Greenie, and five siblings. She is survived by her sister, Florence Sutton, and her children: Ginny Moore (Ted), Arthur Willis, Shirley Maase (David), and Terry Willis (Eileen McLellan), grandchildren, Tom and Bob Willis, Ian Moore and Heather Moore Renner, Eric Maase, and Joshua Willis, as well as 11 great-grandchildren – Alexis, Lily, Kaitlyn, Macy, Kacey, and Bobby Willis, Frida and Lukas Renner, Springer Moore, Jennah and Khadijah Maase.
Family, both near and far, were her greatest joys and nothing was more special than sitting in the background, watching us interact. She will always be there in our background.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, no memorial service will be held until a later time. Please honor her memory by helping to soothe someone’s soul today.
Arrangements by Fellows, Helfenbein & Newnam Funeral Home, P.A.