Whitney Pier
John Godfrey ‘Johnnie’ Gillis died peacefully on Monday, Oct. 6, 2015 at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, surrounded by his loving family.

Johnnie is survived by his daughters, Karen, Cathy (Neil MacDonald) and Trish (Doug Dufour); two grandsons, Greg and Jack; sister, Colleen; mother-in-law, Hilda MacDonald; as well as many nieces and nephew who will miss him dearly. He is also survived by Bernie MacCuish, the brother he never had but should have.  

He was predeceased by his wife, Mary Margaret; son, John ‘John-John’; parents, John and Mamie; sisters, Margie Hartigan (Tommy), Laurie McCarron (Jimmy) and Bonnie Tobin (Harry).

Johnnie was born on Oct. 5, 1940 and was the only son of John and Mamie Gillis. He was also the only and darling brother to Margie, Laurie, Colleen and Bonnie who had waited a long time for a brother and believed that the one they were finally given was perfect.

He married Mary Margaret MacDonald in 1966 and had four children, Karen, Cathy, John ‘John-John’ and Patricia. They had the privilege of growing up with a father who was always there, who loved children, and who always had time.  By example, he taught them the importance of honesty, hard work and always standing up for what is right. 

Johnnie worked as an electrician at Sydney Steel where he was known as a skilled electrician and a man not afraid to take a stand.  

Following his retirement from Sydney Steel, Johnnie settled into a pattern of living life to the fullest. He was the grandfather every child wants and every child deserves — slipping his grandsons spending money when their mother wasn’t looking, telling them stories she wouldn’t want them to hear, and being there always. He was often seen at Polar Bear Beach entering the frigid water a toe and time, yelping all the way and loving it; he was a regular skater at arenas all around Cape Breton and his long and graceful skating strides will be remembered and missed by the friends he made there; and, he was an avid motorcyclist who loved the freedom the open road provided.  

More than anything, Johnnie was a very private man who loved quietly but fiercely.  Those he counted as family and friends enjoyed a bond so strong and so sure it can and will be counted as “one-in-a-lifetime” and Johnnie would want them all to know that life is best enjoyed with a song on the iPod, a cigar between your lips and the sun on your skin.

A funeral mass to celebrate Johnnie’s life will be held at Holy Redeemer Church on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015 at 10 a.m. with Fr. Paul Murphy officiating. A reception to share stories and laughter will follow at the Pier Community Funeral Home on Church Street, Whitney Pier. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.  

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Johnnie may be made to the Hospice Cape Breton Residence Fund (http://hospicecapebreton.org/get-involved/donate/).

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the care and direction of Pier Community Funeral Home.

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                              Online Condolences

Sincere sympathy to Gillis family. We were very close during our school years.
From:  Calvin LeDrew

I am so sorry to hear. I just found out today, I wish to pass on my condolences to all of the family, my thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of sorrow.
From:  Dominic 'Dino'

So sorry to hear the passing of a great friend. We skated, played ball bowl and shared funny stories. He was very quite but very witty. We will miss you my friend, gone but not forgotten. RIP John
From:  Sylvia Hulford

I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Johnnie. He was certainly a man of quiet passions who put his family and friends foremost in his life. He will be sadly missed. Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers, Paul Muto, Julia Cooper, Maya and Alec

 We in the skating community will all miss the quiet presence of a man we all loved and respected. Rest in peace John. 

From:  Elaine Rose

I heart felt condolences go out to Johnnie's family. So sorry to hear of his passing. God Bless.
From:  Marie Chiasson (wife of Eddie Chiasson)

Karen: Sorry to hear the news of your Dad's passing, may he rest in peace now with your mom and brother. My thoughts and prayers are with you , Rest in Peace dear John.
From:  Colleen MacLean

My prayer's are with the family today in your time of sorrow. RIP my friend. 
From:  Claude & Donna Peach

Sending condolence to the family my prayer's are with you in your time of sorrow. RIP John.
From:  Mick Hogan

Rest in peace John old friend.
From:  Sheldon Smith