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Wife of beloved pastor killed in Alaska canoe accident remembers husband

Posted at 5:18 PM, Aug 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-05 21:31:32-04

Loved ones came together celebrate the life of a beloved pastor. 50-year-old Steven Todd Willis died in a canoe accident in Alaska last week.

Sunday marks the first time the pastor is not leading service at First Christian Church. 

Steve's wife, Sheri Willis, told 13 Action News she's more worried about how the congregation will handle this loss. In the meantime, she's keeping herself busy. 

Her message right now -- remember her husband as the funny man who served his community in every way he can.

"He had this infectious laughter and could tell a joke like no other."

Pastor Steve Willis liked to goof around. He loved to make the people around him laugh. But more than that, Sheri says he's also a man with a big heart.

"People would come to church and he's like, well I can tak you out to lunch. These are strangers. He's bought people bus tickets."

No wonder when they first met she fell in love almost immediately. It was like love at first sight.

"The next day I went to work and said, 'I think I found the guy I'm going to marry.'"

But their happy marriage was cut short. Last week, they were celebrating their first anniversary in Alaska when the canoe they were in overturned.

"I know he's home with the Lord. I can't be mad."

Sheri continues to talk to Steve in her head.

She thinks about the happy memories they shared together, memories that Steve shared with his friends who are now giving comfort to Sheri.

"They're telling  me that this was the happiest they'd seen him... He shared that with all those people. It's kind of nice to hear that back."

Sheri says she is grateful for the outpouring of support from people.