Passed on: January 23rd, 2013
John Patrick Gillis, age 94, of Livonia, Michigan passed away peacefully at Angela Hospice surrounded by family on Jan. 23, 2013.
Gillis moved to Livonia in 1950 and established Gillis Electric, Inc. with his wife, Margaret, who predeceased him in 2003. Together John and Margaret raised a family of seven children, Patricia, Louise, Daniel (Laura), Laura (Nathan Butler), Marian, James, and Andrew (Marlene). John had 15 grandchildren.
John’s four sisters and three brothers preceded him in death.
John Patrick was born in New Victoria, N.S. on St. Patrick’s Day, 1918, the seventh child of Daniel Gillis (b. 1866) and Mary Ann (MacDonald). John lost his parents at a young age. At age eight, John moved to the farm of cousin, Neil J. Gillis and his sister, Kate in Grand Mira. Neil later married Annie MacArthur. Neil and Annie’s children became a second family for John.
After a brief stint as a coal miner, John joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), eventually serving as a lieutenant. During the Second World War, John survived several plane crashes while performing reconnaissance and supply drops in Europe. He was picked up by fishermen in the North Atlantic and Dutch farmers in Holland.
John met his wife of 57 years, Margaret Redmond, in 1942, when he came to visit his sister Helen Beaton in Detroit. Margaret’s family had migrated to Detroit from Cape Breton when she was a small child. John and Margaret married in 1946, and settled in the Detroit area.
As president and founder of Gillis Electric, John helped to provide a good living for hundreds. John and Margaret began the business in the basement of the family home in 1955, and Gillis Electric has operated an office and warehouse in Livonia, Michigan since 1971. John also served as vice-president of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, and treasurer of the Thomas Edison (electrical contractors) Club.
John and Margaret were active at St. Maurice Parish and St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center. John served as St. Maurice’s retreat captain for St. Paul’s for many years, and he attended retreats there for over 30 years.
John learned to speak Gaelic when he moved to Grand Mira as a child. He had a deep knowledge of, and devotion to the history and Celtic culture of Cape Breton Island; he visited C.B. every summer. He especially appreciated Cape Breton’s music; in particular Natalie MacMaster’s music gave him comfort in his last days.
His love is a never ending circle. All our love “Beannachd Leibh”.
Visitation will take place at Fred Wood aFuneral Home, 36100 Five Mile Road, East of Levan Road in Livonia, Michigan on Monday Jan. 28, 2013 from 4-9 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 29 from 2-9 p.m. A scripture service will take place on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Funeral services will take place at St Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center, 23333 Schoolcraft, Detroit, MI 48223, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. The body will be in state at 9:30 a.m., and mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Angela Hospice www.angelahospice.org/donate, or St Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center www.stpaulretreat.org/giving.