GEORGE S. GILLIS

In “Stranger in a Strange Land,” author Robert A. Heinlein wrote, “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”

Our beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend George Gillis understood this better than most. He lived it. He taught it. He grokked it.

George S. Gillis of Plymouth, WI passed away peacefully in his sleep early Saturday morning, (June 16, 2018). He was 66.

He was born on May 5, 1952 in Chicago IL, a son of the late Sheldon Gillis; and Betty (Wallace) Gillis. He grew up in Mundelein, IL and graduated from Mundelein High School in 1969. He spent one year at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, another at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL He spent the rest of his life pursuing knowledge in books, apps, film, conversation, and hands-on learning.

A speed reader by training, George devoured books, and he was almost never without one. He adored Science Fiction and History, but seemed almost as happy reading nature guides, computer manuals, and, yes, the dictionary. If it had pages, George was engaged.

He spent most of his early career in manufacturing, usually as a foreman or design engineer, and later in woodworking, computer repairs, and tech support. His Wisconsin employers included Central Mfg., Wilderness Log Homes, Flaherty Corp., Salvatorian Center, and Excel.Net. For more than 10 years, he operated his own business, Custom- Fit Computers, until heart disease and COPD forced early retirement in 2014.

For George, however, none of these jobs held a candle to his family. He was a passionate, loving and loyal husband to two strong women, and was fiercely loved by both. He adored his two children, four step-children, and 13 grandchildren. He loved a house full of infants and children; they, in turn, were drawn to his robust laugh and warmth.

George married Alice Bulebosh on August 7, 1971 in Mundelein, IL and moved with her to the Plymouth area in 1979. Throughout their 37-year marriage, George and Alice fostered and mentored many children, teens and young adults. Their home was a refuge for troubled or lonely youths, many of whom kept in touch long after reaching adulthood. When Alice became seriously ill, George was a devoted and attentive caregiver. She passed away after a courageous battle with breast cancer in 2008.

In 2010, George met Kathy (Van Dyke) Vorpahl and, after a wonderful, loving courtship, they were married on June 25, 2011, and made their home in Plymouth. In sickness and in health, the couple cherished each other and made the most of every day. George enjoyed accompanying Kathy on her Key Club travels to conventions. In fact, they were married two days before leaving on a trip to Phoenix, AZ for a convention. That was their honeymoon! He loved meeting Colin Powell. He loved Kathy’s daughters and nine grandchildren like his own; and they loved him too.

Like Heinlein, George was, in many ways, ahead of his time in intellect and scientific knowledge. He shared several traits with Heinlein’s character Jubal Harshaw. George, too, was a “neo-pessimist philosopher, sybarite and amateur subversive.” He was extremely funny; and hated talking on the telephone. He wanted to see your eyes when he talked to you.

A natural teacher, George was, for many, a big brother, wicked uncle, confidante, and hands-on tutor. He was generous with his time and attention. People came to him for advice because he took their concerns seriously, gave his honest opinion, and never condescended. We will miss his hearty laugh, his silly sayings, his words of wisdom, and the caring, loving way he lived and mentored all of us in some way.

Survivors include: His mother, Betty Gillis Barron of Port Charlotte, FL; his wife, Kathy Gillis of Plymouth WI. One daughter, Heather (Corey) Brenner of Helmville, MT; and one son, Shane (Angie) Gillis of Issaquah, WA. Kathy’s daughters Karen (Bret) Pemble of Combined Locks, WI; Vickie (Carl Woods) Johnson of Freedom WI; Erin (Vorpahl) Huettl of Appleton WI; and Renee (Mike) Peterson of Kaukauna WI. Grandchildren: Elizabeth Brenner, Reilly Brenner, Zebediah Brenner, Alexander Gillis, Briana Pemble, Brady Pemble, Kendra (Patrick) Lukaszewski, Austin Johnson, Hunter Huettl, Chase Huettl, Alex Vorpahl, Chloe Peterson, and Jake Peterson.

Also survived by sisters and brothers: Sherie (Robert) Dvorak – children: Sara, Joshua, Joseph, Robert, David). Kimberly (Nicholas) Dattilo – children; Danielle, Gina. Kevin Gillis - children: Jennifer, Emily. Paul Gillis. Alice’s mother: Lou Bulebosh. sisters-in-law: Nanette (Hans Kuhn) Bulebosh – children John and Simone; and Loretta Bulebosh. He is further survived by special friend Diana Roberts, and many relatives, foster children now adults, and friends.

He was preceded in death by his first wife Alice, his father Sheldon Gillis, and his father-in-law Ed Bulebosh.

A celebration of George’s life was held on Saturday, June 30, 2018 at the Briarwood Cottage Apartment Complex Community Room on South Pleasant View Rd in Plymouth. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund is being established in his name.

A very special thank you goes out to St Nicholas Hospice Team, who assisted George through his COPD illness every step of the way. And also to Suchon Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Plymouth, for taking such good care of George after he passed.

For online condolences, please visit www.suchonfh.com.


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