A native of Portsmouth, Va., Mr. Willis spent most of his youth in Norfolk, where he gained a reputation as a star high school football player. He later attended the University of Virginia.
Mr. Willis became interested in sailing at an early age and ultimately won numerous sailing regattas on Chesapeake Bay. In 1949 and 1950, he won the national championships for the Hampton one-design sailboat class, racing a boat called Long Gone.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Willis purchased a 60-foot yawl from the U.S. Naval Academy. The yawl, originally called Ondine II, was one of the first aluminum- hull racing yachts in the world and won the transatlantic race in the early 1960s. Mr. Willis renamed the yawl Aquarius.
For the next decade, Mr. Willis cruised and raced Aquarius in Caribbean and New England waters. Friends recall his skill in steering Aquarius into small harbors under full sail and then bringing it to anchor, sometimes to applause
After serving as president of C.G. Willis Inc., Mr. Willis became chairman of the board in 1981. He lived briefly in Chestertown, Md., before moving in 1985 to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
While a resident of the Philadelphia area, Mr. Willis lived in Berwyn and Gladwyne and was a member of the Gulph Mills Golf Club and the Philadelphia Racquet Club. He also had been a member of the New York Yacht Club.
He was married to Patricia Bonney Willis of Norfolk for 28 years.
Survivors include his wife of 10 years, Marcia Willis; daughter, Patricia Minehart; sons, Chauncey, Peter and Christopher; five grandchildren, and a sister.
Plans for a memorial service were incomplete.