Classic Cinemas founder Willis Johnson passed away August 16

By many media outlets –

Willis Johnson, owner of Classic Cinemas and Downers Grove’s Tivoli Theatre passed away on August 16th. Earlier this year, the Historical Society honored Willis and his wife Shirley with our annual Historians of the Year award. This was followed by the premiere screening of “History Happens Here: The Tivoli Theatre“.

Willis was a well known and respected leader on the local and regional movie theater business. His death was covered on numerous media outlets including local TV, both major Chicago newspapers and local media outlets:

  1. Willis Johnson, Classic Cinemas founder, dies at 86”, CBS 2 News Chicago
  2. Michael Phillips, “Classic Cinemas founder Willis Johnson is dead at 86. His dedication saved downtown theaters in communities across Chicagoland.”, Chicago Tribune, Arts and Living Section, pp.4-5
  3. Willis Johnson, co-founder of largest Illinois-based theaters, dies at 86. He loved ‘being part of the fun’ with moviegoers”, SunTimes  (subscription required)
  4. Erin Sauder, “Son of Classic Cinemas owner recalls father’s work ethic, desire to give back to the community”, Shaw Local News Network
  5. Stacey Sheridan, “Classic Cinemas founder Willis Johnson dies at 86”, Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and Forest Park
  6. Alicia Fabbre, “Co-founder of Classic Cinemas who restored Tivoli, other suburban theaters dies at 86”, Daily Herald

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