** PLEASE NOTE DATE CHANGE!!!**
New service date: Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020
6:00 – 10:00 pm
Elkhart VFW Post
Mr. Willis Fay “Shawn Walker” Landrum, 78, of Elkhart, passed away peacefully following an extended illness at the home of his daughter in Mishawaka on Monday, October 5, 2020 at 9:30 am. He was born in Waterloo, AL on May 18, 1942 and was the son of the late Ellis and Retha Landrum and is survived by his sweetheart of nine years Carla LaCounte of Wakarusa, of whom Willis always considered as “the love of his life”.
Also surviving is his son, Shawn (Yvonne) French of Mishawaka; daughters Heather (Ray) Tackett of Andersonville, TN, and Katie and Elizabeth “Beth” Fannon, both of Mishawaka; sister Linda Landrum of Mt. Juliet, TN; grandchildren Ashton French, Jordan, Dylan and Kaleb Fannon and Marie and Johnny Letner; as well as a host of loving cousins, extended family, friends, fellow entertainers, business associates, roadies, groupies, and a collection of adoring fans. Also left to mourn his passing is Carla’s dog Lindy, who somehow knew Willis was ailing and developed a tight bond with him. Willis always teased Carla that he needed Lindy more than she did.
In accordance with his wishes, Willis has been cremated and his life is to be celebrated in an evening of fellowship, friendship and karaoke in his honor at the VFW Post, 1519 Bristol Street, Elkhart from 6-10 pm on Saturday, October 17, 2020. Billings Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Elkhart have been assisting the family with arrangements.
Willis was a Country and Western music entertainer nearly his entire adult life and adopted the stage persona of “Shawn Walker”. He started out as the tour bus driver for Marty Robbins and his band, but it didn’t take long for a naturally talented Willis to pick up a guitar, dust off his vocal cords and become the opener for several big names in country music, including doing a show with Kitty Wells at Notre Dame. “Shawn’s” entertainment career can be best summed up with a paraphrased excerpt from a Facebook post from Shawn’s good friend Rodney Owsley:
“For those who attended at my show at “My Dad’s Place” years ago, you may remember Shawn and his lovely Carla LaCounte. He always has a good country song to share and he did a great job in the classic country stuff.
Back in 1995, I was getting ready to hit the stage at the Opry House in Nashville. I was there in the restroom rehearsing a song that I had written. I was sitting on the floor singing my tune all by myself when this fella walked in and just stood there listening. He said, ‘That sounds mighty good, man…’ I said “Thanks’ and he emptied the trash and left. I never spoke to him except for those few short moments. He said he was working there at the opry as a janitor but he could sing and that he had opened for a few big country acts. I was nervous, as one might expect; I had already done two songs with the Colt .45 band that evening and was not looking forward to doing a solo…
So fast forward to 2004 when I was in Elkhart singing, doing local shows and Karaoke gigs. This fella comes in the door and walks right over to me and says, ‘Remember me?’. I looked up and saw his face and knew exactly who he was….Strange to say the least…but yes, I met Shawn Walker in a restroom at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville several years earlier. Shawn continued to attend my shows and began to sing with me on a regular basis. We even did a gig together where he rigged up a washtub and a wire as an old-timey bass to go with my guitar. He loved to sing the old country hits, and we shared a mutual respect for each other’s talents. Shawn was always ready to take the stage on a moment’s notice, but I will always get a good laugh at the story on how we met. My heart goes out to those he left behind…”
To Shawn, crooning to all the original country classics was, quite simply, his favorite thing to do. He loved music and was quite the talented dancer, but putting his personal flair on all the familiar hits on karaoke night at countless area venues was what he lived for.
Proud, obstinate and incessantly punctual, Shawn was always full of love, life and song. He never passed an opportunity to bring a smile to someone’s face, and his music in many cases was just what the doctor ordered.
He will be deeply missed by his family and friends. A quote from Marty Robbins reminds us of how Willis lived: “Everyday is a good day to be alive, whether the sun’s shining or not.” He would always say “Well, it’s a good day, I’m doing alright, I have some money in my pocket and a little food to eat, so things are good”!
Keep playing that 12 string in Heaven and we will see you on the other side!
Memorial donations may be given to the charity of one’s choice. You are encouraged to share Shawn’s obituary, leave online condolences, or order memorial tributes by following the prompts on our website. Thank you so much for your interest in Shawn’s story.
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