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Journal Gazette
Businessman and charter school backer Don Willis could see this mansion go under the gavel Feb. 4.

Businessman Willis hit with sheriff's sale of home

– Businessman Donald R. Willis appears to be in financial straits for at least the second time in four years.

Foreclosure paperwork has been filed against his Forest Park Boulevard home. U.S. Bank National Association is named as a plaintiff in court documents.

A sheriff’s sale is set for 2 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Allen County Courthouse. The massive home is known for a pair of lions at the entrance of the home, 1830 Forest Park Blvd. According to court documents, Willis owes $868,764.

Allen County assessor records list the value of the home at $770,200.

In 2010, foreclosure paperwork also was filed against Willis’ home. While he disputed those facts then, Willis failed to answer or make a plea in this latest seizure, court documents show.

The charter school backer could not be reached by phone for comment Thursday evening, and no one answered the door at the Forest Park Boulevard home.

In 2006, he paved the way for the onetime YWCA campus on Wells Street to open an Imagine Inc. charter school franchise. It and another Imagine school had mixed results. In August, they were replaced by Horizon Christian Academy, which has three locations in Fort Wayne.

Imagine forged a partnership with Horizon Christian that allows Imagine to continue to operate the schools.

Willis left Magnavox to found Command System Inc. The company developed crisis management software for law enforcement and military personnel. It was sold to General Dynamics in 2002 for an estimated $100 million.

Willis established FourthWave a year later, but like his charter schools endeavor, it struggled. The company suffered a major setback in 2005 when the city of Fort Wayne declined to buy a software package for $4 million.

The decision came after miscommunication over the price of the product.

Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne now occupies what once was FourthWave’s East Main Street headquarters. The organization bought the building in November 2010.

pwyche@jg.net

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