By Bejay Browne
STEPHEN Willis, the retired chairman of the Friends Hospice Foundation in Paphos died at home yesterday morning after a short illness.
Stephen, 84, was a driving force behind establishing Paphos’ first operational hospice which opened in 2006. The hospice has recently moved to a new location at St. George’s hospital and will take its first patients in a couple of week’s time.
The hospice provides free palliative and respite care for patients and their families-with life limiting illnesses.
An emotional Dr Aristos Georghiou, clinical director of the facility said yesterday: “We owe Stephan a lot. Without him there would be no hospice; 900 people and their families are so grateful to him. He was a great person and a friend as well – a truly great man and we were very lucky to have him.”
Chris Jones, the current president of the hospice said: “I am proud to have followed Stephen who was the founder president of the hospice. I am standing on the shoulders of a giant.”
Stephen Murrell Willis was born in Hadleigh Suffolk in 1929. At the age of eight he was accepted as a choir boy in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
There he developed his love of singing and Renaissance music. He later attended Bloxham school where he excelled at rugby football as well as academic studies. After his national service when he served in Germany as a cipher operative during the Berlin ‘airlift’ he studied to become a solicitor. He married and practised in Suffolk for several years during which time his three daughters and son were born.
He also loved sailing and with his second wife, Doris whom he married in 1975, sailed each summer in the Mediterranean. In 1975 he was appointed one of the first solicitor Judges, a Recorder, a part time post, whilst continuing his office work. In 1985 he was made a full time circuit Judge. The couple retired to Paphos in later years.
Here Stephen continued his musical activities, organising concerts in Paphos for the Italian ambassador. For this he later was awarded the honour of ‘Cavaliere, Second Class.
As well as singing in the local choirs he organised the Paphos Music Forum, a network to inform the public of musical events.
His family said: “His greatest achievement was to open, with the support of his strong committee, The Friends’ Hospice, the first in Paphos.”
Stephen had many other interests including walking, foreign travel, playing MahJong, collecting fine old drinking glasses and reading. He loved life, his family and his cellar.
He leaves his wife, four children, two step children, 11 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
His funeral will be at Ayia Kyriaki. St. Paul’s Pillar at 11am on Tuesday October 1.
The family has requested no flowers but all donations will go to the Friends’ Hospice