A memorial tribute honoring Gene Merrill Willis has been established through the American Floral Endowment (AFE) by Pete Garcia Company/Garcia Group. Gene M. Willis, 81, of Jamul, CA, passed away unexpectedly but peacefully in his home on March 22, 2023. He is most known by the industry through his career of work at San Diego Florist Supplies, Inc.
Gene began assisting with the bookkeeping at San Diego Florist Supplies in 1975 and became a partner in 1977. In 1989 he helped open the 2nd location in Carlsbad, CA. In 1991 he became 100% owner and continued to support the floral industry in Southern California by providing the best floral hard goods from around the world. By 2018 he had grown San Diego Florist Supplies to 7 locations across Southern California and Las Vegas, NV.
Gene was actively engaged in the floral industry, serving as the president of International Floral Distributors in 2013 and on the board of directors from 2012 to 2014. He promoted floral hard goods as an integral part of the floral industry for 46 years. He believed hard goods were every bit as important to the success of cut flowers.
Gene was born in the rugged northeastern Arizona town of McNary, AZ., to Merrill Roundy and Dora Tilton Willis. He descended from a long line of northern Arizona pioneers, and the spirit of the Old West—honesty, hard work, resilience, and helping others – lived in his veins his whole life.
In 1967 Gene received a master’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University, passed the CPA examination, and with his wife, Judy, moved to San Diego to work for the accounting firm now known as Touche Ross. After ten years in public accounting, he bought the budding San Diego Florist Supplies. He was still working until the day he passed away. Gene was faithful to everything to which he put his hand—his faith, his family, his friends, and his commitment to the floral industry.
Gene’s legacy lives on through his wife, four children, their spouses, and nine grandchildren.
American Floral Endowment610 Madison Street, Ste. 101, PMB 803Alexandria, VA 22314c/o Gene Willis Memorial Tribute