Jack Willis was born in Fort Myers, Florida, and raised in Felda, Florida. After attending the Hendry County School system, he graduated from LaBelle High School in 1974.
In the Fall of 1974, Jack moved to Tifton, Georgia to attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC). His plan was to study Ag Economics. When his brother, Carl Willis, passed away two years later, Jack needed to go back home to help care for the family’s cattle ranch.
Fortunately, as a child, Jack had helped his father, Oscar Willis, work on the ranch. He knew what had to be done, and spent his days looking after and working their cows, building and repairing fences as well as mowing and maintaining the pastures. The days were long, lonely, and the work was never-ending.
A few years later, while still running the ranch, Jack decided to join the Felda Volunteer Fire Department (FVFD). He went through the training and received his fire fighter certification. After being convinced by former LVFD Chief Randy Bengston, Jack then attended EMT school through the former Edison Community College and earned this certification too.
Jack spent the next several years continuing to work on the ranch and run emergency calls when needed. However, he soon realized that his need for more human interaction was growing stronger. He was tired of being a loner on the ranch all of the time, and he wanted to be more involved with the community. He stated that “cows don’t exactly maintain conversations.”
In 1992, he joined the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) as an Auxiliary Deputy. This volunteer position gave Jack the opportunity to help his community in a different capacity. He spent his days performing basic law enforcement duties by helping wherever he could. He wrote reports and patrolled the roadways. He also worked security details for football games and private events.
Nearly five years later, the HCSO needed a part-time Bailiff and a Civil Process Server. He was then asked to work as a full-time Civil Process Server in Clewiston. Trying to work 40 hours a week and manage a ranch became exhausting. Jack eventually sold all of his cattle but kept his land. He now leases his property to others who run cattle and maintain the pastures.
As a Civil Process Server, Jack begins his day with paperwork. Everything is sorted by priority with domestic injunctions being at the top of the list. He travels around Hendry County serving papers to individuals as needed. Although he sometimes encounters stressful situations, he noted that he “enjoys the people he gets to talk to and being able to interact with the citizens of Hendry County.”
Jack has been married to his wife, Glenda, for almost 30 years. He also inherited two kids and a dog all those years ago. He affectionately calls his daughter, Amanda, and his son, Buddy, his own. He likes to joke that he “skipped diapers and went straight to puberty” since ‘his kids’ were older when they came in to his life. Jack is proof that anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to step up and be a dad.
A quiet man, Jack enjoys spending time with his family. He is also an avid reader, and enjoys learning about history. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Hendry County Cattlemen’s Association, which is an organization that is heavily involved in 4-H and promoting agriculture.
Jack stated that “being a part of the Civil Department has lead to making a lot of friends within the agency, and he has enjoyed his time at the HCSO working under several different sheriffs.” After 25 years of service, Jack will retire from the sheriff’s department in June of 2018. Although he will miss the interaction with the community and his family at the department, he is looking forward to retirement so that he can spend more time traveling the country and experiencing new things.