Alfred (Al, Alfredo, Bobby) Louis Gillis passed away surrounded with love and family November 17, 2019. Al was born on January 17, 1939 in Island Pond, Vermont to John and Bernadette Gillis. Al spent his formative years in Portland, Maine. His love of the ocean, outdoors began in Portland and was further enriched by fishing and hunting with his brothers, brothers-in-law, and father. The need to pass the time waiting for fish to bite and deer to appear may have been the mother of invention for his notorious storytelling. His humble beginnings taught him to fix anything with WD-40, spit, nose grease, duct tape, or welding. After high school he joined the US Air Force to learn a trade and to see the world. In basic training Al learned to weld and he never stopped until he retired. His first exotic station was at Westover Air force base, in Chicopee, MA! While Chicopee wasn’t Europe or Hawaii, it was where he met his future wife Patricia Rollend. His next duty station was in tropical Guam, which is where he got all of his “Back in the island….” stories. After leaving the military he came back to Springfield MA, married Patricia, and started a family. Al worked for, and eventually became owner of Pioneer Welding. He went on to work at Monsanto (1978) and eventually retired from Solutia in 2001. His favorite phrase after retirement was “I ain’t doing #@&*!”. Al will be remembered as a great friend, loving father, and pet enabler. He had a legendary gift to talk to anyone: a guy on the street, or the Pope, and make them laugh. Al expressed his fatherly love by giving nicknames to all his children, names like: Snod-Grass, Nowski, Fro-bird, Jeff-the-Chef, Jean-the-bean, and Chaco Batzi. Fatherly advice to his children was doled out with ringers such as, “Better watch your derriere!”, “you can’t sleep fast”, “don’t sit on the cement steps too long because you’ll get piles”, and “don’t pet porcupines”. A healthy sense of skepticism was instilled with, “Got Pictures?” or “your derriere is sucking channel water”! More importantly he taught us to tinker, build, and repair; because you can’t break what’s already broken. He gave us the love of the outdoors, with camping (using a canvas tent that felt like a 100 lbs.) and fishing, as well as the Red Sox and Patriots. Al always loved the company of a good dog, and the dogs always loved his company because he gave them beer and food. He leaves behind his children: Robert Gillis of Springfield MA, Brian Gillis (Lisa Pepin) of Wendell MA, Jeffrey Gillis-Davis (Lisa Gillis-Davis) of Webster Groves, MO, and Jean Gillis (Adrian Denis) of Uxbridge; and three sisters: Addie Hall, Jane “Kit” Large, and Marion “The Brat” Howell. Left to continue on his fishing legacy are his four grandsons: Owen, Alexander, Benjamin, and Jack Gillis-Davis. Al is predeceased by his wife Patricia, Parents John and Bernadette Gillis, brothers Pete and Bengy, and sisters Simone, and Alice. Friends and family are invited to celebrate Al’s life with a period of visitation from 1-4pm on Sunday, November 24th at Sampson’s Chapel of the Acres, 21 Tinkham Rd in Springfield. His funeral will follow on Monday beginning at 9 am at the funeral home with a Liturgy of Christian Burial to begin at 10am at St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Springfield. Burial will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery. In Iieu of flowers, please send donations to: Physical Therapy Fund, Springfield College, Attn: C. Moriarty, 263 Alden Street Springfield MA, 01109. Or, because of his love of animals, the T.J. O’Connor Foundation- 66 Industry Ave. Springfield, MA 01104
To plant a memorial tree in honor of Alfred "Al" L. Gillis, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.