Gerry Willey, owner of Fenton Home Furnishings, deserves a special spotlight because of his philanthropy to the local community. Born and raised in Flint, Willey is not only devoted to helping clients furnish their homes but also committed to assisting people in need, including local residents battling cancer and people who have had their utilities shut off, among others.
“Gerry Willey is an extremely generous man who lives his faith,” says Fenton mayor Sue Osborn. “He not only contributes to the needs of his church and community, he has reached out to aid the Flint water crisis and the communities his home furnishings business serves.”
“Gerry Willey is an extremely generous man who lives his faith.” —Mayor Sue Osborn
Deacon Terry Carsten of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Fenton agrees. “Gerry and his wife, Kay, are two of the most generous people I know,” he says. “They keep the utilities on in the homes of those who have run into hard times. People are still in their homes because of their generosity.”
Fenton, the city that Willey now calls home, has been the recipient of much of that generosity. “The Willey family donated carpeting for the City of Fenton Library and contributed to the expansion of our historic Fenton Community and Cultural Center,” Osborn adds. She says that the donations were unsolicited. “He contacted me to say he wanted to give back to the community that has been so good to him and his family business.”
Recently, Willey and his wife made a contribution of a 9-foot-tall butterfly sculpture to downtown Fenton. “We are planting a butterfly garden around the sculpture to create a real showpiece the entire community will enjoy every summer,” Osborn says.
“Last Christmas he wanted to help a family in need,” Carsten says. “He gave a large sum of money and turned the lives of this family around to give them a Christmas they will always remember.”
Carsten relates a scene that took place at the church earlier this month. “He’d read one of my articles in our parish bulletin about a family in need and wanted to know the details of their situation. The specific information was enough to cause his eyes to water and his heart to break for this family. He brought out his checkbook and began to write. Then and there, in addition to his monthly donation to the church, he solved this family’s need for heat, and met the needs of several others at the same time.”
Willey does indeed live his faith, embodying humility. “You might think with all he has done in this parish that he would be a celebrity,” Carsten says. “Actually, he dresses like the average man, has never tooted his own horn to my knowledge and last weekend at our fish fry was reprimanded by a volunteer for trying to get an extra piece of dessert.”
Carsten adds, “He and Kay have given our parish more than I can say. The school, rectory and entire parish family have benefited from his generosity. This is the kind of man I have the honor to know.”
Osborn agrees. “I have great admiration for Gerry and Kay Willey for their enormous giving. They have definitely left a legacy of beauty and generosity in Fenton.”
The stairways of Fay Hall at Powers Catholic High School. Gerry and Kay Willey contributed a generous donation toward the remodeled Powers Catholic High School.