In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing the following story of Kelly Willis, who was the original co-owner of Taylor & Associates.
Debbie Weaver and Kelly Willis met during court reporting school and six years later began working together. This was the beginning of a friendship that would turn into a true partnership. In 1996, Weaver and Willis became co-owners of Taylor & Associates. Through the years, their partnership and teamwork would grow the firm exponentially, eventually leading to its renaming as Midwest Litigation Services. Debbie credits this growth to her decision to partner with Kelly, which enabled Midwest to attract additional clients allow both entrepreneurs to begin seriously thinking about growing the company.
“It’s the best partnership anybody could ever hope to have,” Willis said in an interview with CBS News in 2005. “I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s two friends who work together – work hard and play hard, have a good time and trust each other.”
While growing the firm from four court reporters to 25 employees and 65 court reporters by 2005, both women also raised four children each and became close friends. Kelly was a support to Debbie as she went through a divorce, and Debbie supported Kelly as she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
While she was sick, Kelly continued to work at the firm as much as she could. In that same interview with CBS News, Debbie stated, “I know it means a lot to her because it means a lot to me. And I know what we did to get here.” In 2005, Kelly passed away. Since then, Debbie has continued to pour herself into the growth of the company, in honor of Kelly’s memory.
In 2018, the Midwest family of companies changed its name to Alaris and remodeled its headquarters in downtown St. Louis. In honor of Kelly, the largest conference room in the building is named “The Kelly Willis Room.”