Villa Kreiter moved to Keene, Texas, as a child when her father, Karl Kreiter, was named manager of the Southwestern Junior College farm. Her grandparents had been among the first settlers of the village, and her grandfather L.B. Wallen drilled the first water well in town. When her family moved to the Concord community west of Cleburne, Texas, Villa stayed with relatives in Keene so she could continue going to school. She completed academy in 1921 and Southwestern Junior College in 1923. At the age of 18, she began teaching first grade at the church school in Fort Worth, Texas.
Then Villa taught the lower grades for 10 years in the Concord, Godley, and Keene public schools in Texas. In 1929, she married Emory R. Gillis, a machinist with the Santa Fe, Railroad. When workers went on strike against the Santa Fe Railroad, Mr. and Mrs. Gillis started their own business. Gillis Auto Parts on South Main in Cleburne was a well-known business in the city for many years, and Mrs. Gillis was well-known for her good business sense. A charter member of the Cleburne Business and Professional Women, she was loved and respected by the business community.
Villa built the structure that housed the company, and she built and remodeled a number of homes in Cleburne and Keene and Tucson, Arizona. Emory Gillis died in 1949. Mrs. Gillis later married Herbert Sierk, who preceded her in death. She died in 1992. The Villa Gillis Sierk Scholarship was established by Mrs. Sierk in her will to provide annual awards for Johnson County students with high academic achievement and financial need.
Scholarship award requirements
This scholarship is awarded to students from Johnson County, Texas, and is based on academic achievement and financial need.
2020-2021-Jostally Gonzalez, Lesly Limon, Harold Stowell
2019-2020 -Jaziel Ramirez
2018-2019 -Georgia Tinsley, Denicia Israel
2017-2018 -Onalethata Modiga, Joshua Walker
2016-2017 - Eglae Sandoval, Joshua Walker
2015-2016 - Keyber Majano
2014-2015 - Aisheh Abunijmeh
2013-2014 - Xenia Munoz, Chelsea Zabala
2012-2013 - Aaron Preston, Caroline Shockey
2011-2012 - Janet Garcia, Ashten Priest
2010-2011 - Angel Acudia, Cherish Herrera