I never met Lynn Willis, but he was one of the influential game designers in the industry, and had an impact on my gaming life that I won't ever forget.
Lynn Willis began his gaming career as a board designer, but he entered Chaosium in 1978 with Lords of the Middle Sea, but he also became the third employee of Chaosium, first as an editor and then as the mastermind behind the entire Call of Cthulhu line as well as other projects at the company. Willis was incredibly smart, an enthusiastic reader with a vast array of subjects that he read about, detail-oriented, and capable. He is largely responsible for the high quality, playability, and popularity of the leading horror RPG in the gaming industry.
I never met Lynn Willis, as he never attended gaming conventions, though now I wish I had managed to visit the Chaosium offices in the hopes of meeting him there. While I was exposed to the Call of Cthulhu RPG and had a good experience with the game in early and late 1980s, I got away from that game system in favour of others, though I came back to it in the mid-2000s again for a while. That said, Call of Cthulhu was my first and best exposure to horror rpgs, and I will always be grateful for that. However, he was much more influential on me with specific other games and products, notably the Thieves' World and Thieves' World Companion products, the Ringworld RPG and the Ringworld Companion, and the material that he did for the Pendragon RPG in its various forms, as well as several modules and some of the Call of Cthulhu supplements that I picked up just to read them. The best of which was, of course, Beyond the Mountains of Madness, an epic supplement for the CoC game that was just...perfect.
Lynn Willis is going to be missed in the RPG field.
Rest In Peace, Mr. Willis. You've earned it, and the gaming community thanks you.