William John Gillen, 89, of Southbury died peacefully February 27, surrounded by his loving family. He was born in New York City, April 5, 1925, to Nancy (Pontieri) and William Gillen.
He leaves behind his six children: Patty Gillen McQuail, and her husband Matthew, and Bernadette Addessi, and her husband Wayne, all of Newtown, Kevin Gillen, and his wife Chonita, of South Glastonbury, Geraldine and Susie Gillen of Woodbury, Maureen Gillen-Brown of Marion, Mass., and Sheila Gillen Gross, and husband Rick, of Roxbury; his brother John Gillen of Cornwall, N.Y.; 12 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and several nieces and nephews. His beloved wife of 66 years, Geraldine; their infant daughter, Monica; son-in-law, David Stampfl; and his brother, Robert, predeceased Mr Gillen.
Mr Gillen served in World War II as a bombardier in the US Army Air Corps, and was a combat infantryman during the Korean War.
Following his military service, he taught in the Weston school system for more than 30 years, where he gained a reputation as an incredible teacher, and was recognized by all who knew him as a master of his craft. Mr Gillen proudly pursued teaching as a vocation, as opposed to a job, and viewed every life experience as a “learning moment.”
Following his retirement in 1982, the Gillens lived in Florida for more than 20 years, where they enjoyed a great life together, entertaining family and friends. He will always be remembered for his ability to love unselfishly and spread laughter and kindness wherever he went, and always left a room better than before he had entered it. He possessed a unique quality to insert levity into most situations, and was always at his best when things seemed to be at their worst. Whenever anyone asked him how he was, his familiar reply was simply stated: “Everything is beautiful.” The amazing twinkle in his eyes and his ever-present smile will live on in the hearts of anyone who had the privilege to know him. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, and nothing pleased him more than his family.
Mr Gillen would also want all to know that he was a loyal and devoted friend to Bill W. for the last 32 years of his life.
The Gillen family would like to express its deepest gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and staff at Danbury Hospital and The Hearth in Southbury for the untiring and unparalleled level of care that they gave to Mr Gillen.
Calling hours are Tuesday, March 4, from 5 to 8 pm, at the Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main Street, Newtown. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday, March 5, at 10:30 am, at St Rose of Lima, Newtown. Interment, with full military honors, will follow at St Peter’s Cemetery in Danbury.
Memorial contributions may be to the Weston High School Scholarship Committee, PO Box 1026, Weston CT 06883 and to Simply Smiles, 1771 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880 or at simplysmiles.org.