John Thomas Gillis passed away at his home in Chatham on April 2nd. He was born on June 15, 1945 in Boston and grew up in Chestnut Hill. Jack and sometimes Jake, as he was called by his family and his many dear friends, was the beloved husband and best friend to his love of fifty-two years, Leslie Hadge Gillis. He was father extraordinaire to his son Kevin and his wife Jennifer, his daughter Kristin and her husband Stephen and his son Brian and his wife Kristen. Jack was the deeply loved and adored Grampy and Papa to his most precious grandchildren, Allison Rose Hartnett, Ella Victoria and Jameson Michael Gillis. He held a special place in his heart for his dear sister in law, Cecilia Gillis and his cherished nephew, Ryan Gillis. Jack was predeceased by his parents John and Doris and his beloved brother Paul. He was the adored son-in law of Frederick and Mary Hadge.
A lifelong sports fan, Jack grew up during the days when boys roamed freely on their bicycles in search of whatever pick-up game the local playground had to offer. He loved to share stories with his family of how at the tender age of ten, he would sneak into the garden and climb up to the rafters and watch the Celtics play for free. He especially loved the Red Sox and he spent many of his boyhood days watching his idols from the bleachers. He was over the moon when the Red Sox finally broke the curse, winning the World Series in 2004.
Jack was a proud alumnus of Catholic Memorial and it was at a CM dance that God’s good grace shone so brightly on our father when he met our mother, falling head over heels for her joyful smile and winning dance moves. Inseparable from that day on, our parents began their future together. Jack graduated from Boston State College and was a dedicated teacher in the Boston Public Schools for thirty years. In addition to his life as a teacher, he was an accomplished college soccer referee as well as a skilled basketball referee. Jack proudly served as the Assistant Men’s soccer coach at Brandeis University for eighteen years. He loved the game of soccer and was elated to have shared that experience with his son, Kevin, during the years Kevin played for Brandeis.
Jack was an avid reader and he loved a good game of cards with friends, but his true love and passion was his family. He was the consummate family man, always available and at the ready for whatever his children or grandchildren needed. He loved sitting down to dinner and simply basking in the glow of his family, always making sure there was plenty of food and forever ready to welcome anyone who may have dropped in.
After many happy years in Framingham, Jack and Leslie began their next chapter together in Chatham, moving there permanently in 2013. During his years in Chatham, Jack made many wonderful friends and delighted in the many hours he spent on the Cape’s beautiful beaches with his grandchildren. He unabashedly roughed up the fairways at Seaside Links and continued to hone his skills on the grill much to the delight of his family. A kind, gentle and faith-filled man, Jack was a devoted member of the Holy Redeemer Church and he sought to serve and love his fellow neighbors through his work with the St. Vincent De Paul Society, Chatham’s Meals on Wheels program and as a docent at the Mayo House in Chatham.
Those wishing to make a donation in Jack’s name may do so to the St Vincent De Paul Society c/o The Holy Redeemer Church, 44 Highland Avenue, Chatham, MA 02633 or to the Cape Cod Hospital Auxilliary, Chatham/Harwich Branch PO Box 2912, Hyannis MA 02601. Visiting Hours will be held on Sunday April 7th from 2:00pm-5:00pm at the Nickerson Funeral Home, 87 Crowell Rd, Chatham, MA. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday April 8th at 11am, at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 44 Highland Avenue, Chatham MA. For online condolences, please visit www.nickersonfunerals.com.