Jeans Small Obituary (1933 – 2021) – Norman, OK

Jean Willistine Petit
August 7, 1933 – July 28, 2021
Norman, Oklahoma – The world lost a beloved wife and mother on July 28, 2021. “Willis,” as most people called her, was born August 7, 1933 to James P. and Annabelle (Collins) Grainger in Horry County, South Carolina.
She grew up on a farm and although there was a lot of hard work to be done, she still had so many wonderful memories of her childhood with her loving parents, grandmother and two younger sisters. Willis graduated from Floyds High School and attended both Coker College and the University of South Carolina.
She married her childhood sweetheart and sweetheart of her life, Frank Small, on September 3, 1955 at Pleasant View Baptist Church and thus began her greatest adventures. She married a US Air Force officer and they left South Carolina to explore the world.
Willis became the officer’s ultimate wife. She has extended her legendary hospitality to everyone, her family, friends and even strangers. She loved to celebrate holidays, birthdays and promotions with her wonderful cuisine and flower arrangements. Willis also loved to travel and she and Frank lived in many places including Morocco, Panama, Turkey, Japan and several bases in the United States.
She embraced each new assignment with a great attitude and quickly learned the local customs and traditions. She enjoyed cooking, arranging flowers, decorating her home, reading, collecting seashells, growing orchids, and spending time with family and friends. Willis said “My life has been a beautiful journey.”
Willis was immensely proud of his family and leaves only fond memories. She is survived by her husband Frank, her daughter Katrina McBride and her husband Ken, her son Curt Small and his wife Sherri, her granddaughters Kate Vahlberg and her husband Bryan, Kellie Smith and her husband Will, her grandsons Matthew Small and Ryan Small, and his great-grandchildren Annabelle and Henry. Vahlberg, two sisters, Rebecca Collins and Linda Graham, and many nieces and nephews. We will each remember Willis saying “I love you with a bushel and a kiss and a hug around your neck.”
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to First Baptist Church, 211 W. Comanche Street, Norman, OK 73069 or Pleasant View Baptist Church, 6190 Pleasant View Church Road, Nichols, South Carolina 29581.
A Celebration of Life will take place at 11:00 am on Wednesday August 11, 2021, at the First Baptist Church. The service will be recorded and broadcast online and memories and condolences can be shared at

Published by The Sun News on August 9, 2021.

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