Wilbert Anderson Willie
August 20, 1939 ~ June 11, 2020
Wilbert Anderson Willie, 80, passed away peacefully on June 11 at his home in Fort Defiance, AZ following a long and determined battle with multiple health issues.
Mr. Willie was born in Fort Wingate, NM on August 20, 1939 to Helen Willie (Chilchiltah, NM) and Ralph Anderson (Mariano Lake, NM). He was of the Tse’nahabiłnii Clan and born for Kinyaa’áannii Clan.
Graveside services were held Monday, June 15 at the Blanding City Cemetery.
Mr. Willie attended elementary school in Church Rock, NM and Beverly Hills, CA. He was one of the first students in the LDS student placement program and lived with Melvin and Betty Mellor of Fayette, UT until he graduated high school in Gunnison, UT.
He served two and a half years as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Southwest Indian Mission, which included the Navajo reservation, before attending Snow College in Ephraim, UT.
He married his high school sweetheart, Tinna Holiday, in the Manti Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Soon after the wedding he began employment as a community health worker providing public health education and medication to combat tuberculosis amongst the Navajo and White Mesa Ute communities in San Juan County.
He also was a Navajo Culture Teacher at Rough Rock Demonstration School, a Navajo Police Officer, and later worked for Community Action Program in Price, UT.
From 1972 to 1982, Willie served as Deputy and Executive Director of the Office of Navajo Economic Opportunity.
He ran for Navajo Chairman in 1982. Upon his defeat he supported Peterson Zah, who later invited Willie to join his administration as Senior Administrator for Community Development and Personnel Management.
Willie returned to San Juan County to serve as Director of Blue Mountain Diné, a grassroots organization for Navajo citizens in the Blanding and Monticello communities.
Later in his career Willie turned his attention to Indian Education serving as Human Resource Director for Rough Rock Community School, Rock Point Community School, and St. Michaels Association for Special Education.
Throughout his life, Willie was an active member and local leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After serving as a missionary, he and his wife assisted in establishing the Indian Seminary Program with Ronald Knighton.
Willie held various church callings and leadership positions throughout the Gallup, NM; Chinle, AZ; and Blanding, UT stakes. Most notably, Willie was awarded the Spencer W. Kimball Award from the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Willie served many years on the board for the Utah Division of Indian Affairs and Utah Navajo Development Council, in addition to several state level appointments by the Governors of Utah and Arizona for advisory councils on children and families.
He is survived by his wife Tinna Holiday Willie and his children: Utonah W. Tulley (Marcus Tulley) of St. Michaels, AZ; Lynette Willie of Window Rock, AZ; Patrice W. Henderson (Leonard Henderson, Jr.) of Ft. Defiance, AZ; Spencer W. Willie (Cheryl Willie) of Fort Defiance, AZ; and Mellor C. Willie (Robert Read) of Washington, DC; 11 grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.
Brothers: Eugene Livingston of Montezuma Creek, UT; Ambrose Livingston of Mesa, AZ; and Raymond Livingston of Sheep Springs, NM.
Sisters: Wanda Livingston of Phoenix, AZ and Pearl Ami of Albuquerque, NM.
He is also survived by numerous foster sons and daughters who were raised in his home.
He is proceeded in death by his father Ralph Anderson of Mariano Lake; his mother Helen W. Livingston of Blanding; and his brothers Jerry Kee of Scottsdale, AZ; Lorenzo Livingston of Blanding; Kenneth Livingston of Monument Valley, UT; and Albert Livingston of Phoenix, AZ.