Willis joined The TESS in 1977 after a career at the Scotsman as features and literary editor. His period with the paper has been marked by momentous changes, both in terms of the newspaper industry and the education world.
Neil Munro, present deputy editor who succeeds him, said this week: "Willis has been a pivotal figure on the educational scene for as long as he probably cares to remember, a calming and reassuring influence. He has presided over major changes in The TESS. These have included a doubling of the circulation and an extension of the Scottish coverage, particularlythe ScotlandPlus section giving teachers throughout the country a voice in our columns.
"As editor, he had a keen eye for spotting talent and many people who are now regular and established contributors to The TESS and beyond owe their position to his encouragement. From the point of view of those who worked closest with him, Willis has been a model editor - interventionist when required, supportive at all times. The word unflappable was undoubtedly coined for him.
"He will be missed, not least as an impartial chair and contributor at many conferences and as a voice of reason in an increasingly frenzied media coverage of educational matters. He is due a long and fulfilling retirement."