STEPHENSON, Gillis Fraser
Gillis Fraser Stephenson, 80, passed away on August 4, 2017 at his home in Leominster, MA, surrounded by family and friends.
He leaves behind his loving wife, Judith Stephenson (MacKinlay); daughter, Karen Audette and husband, Steve (Concord, MA); son, Lloyd and wife, Christine (Springfield, VA), and son, Gary and wife, Cynthia (Concord, MA). He was the beloved grandfather to Gerald, Kenzie and Andre Audette, Craig, Lauren Epsosito, Colin, Duncan, Clark, and great-grandson, Tommy Audette.
Born January 31, 1937 in Sydney, NS, Canada to Edward Allan Stephenson and Dorothy Stephenson (Gillis) he was one of ten children, brother to Robert ‘Bo’, Sheila Macleod, Barbara Meara, Donna Hasiuk.
Predeceased by siblings, Eleanor MacQueen, Jean Campbell, Marion MacKeigan, John ‘Jack’ and Sandra. He was an energetic and curious child (read between the lines) and legends of his adventurous childhood amused his family over the years.
Across the dance floor on May 18, 1956 Gillis spotted the love of his life, Judy and they danced. Even though they were married in June, it was May 18 that they celebrated. Few couples have a marriage as strong and as enduring. Their commitment and joy with each other was inspiring.
Gillis built their home in Sydney while he worked for the Sydney-Louisbourg Railroad. In the early 1960s they emigrated to Concord, MA and he worked many years for the electronics firm GenRad. During this time Gillis shared his lifetime love of ice hockey by founding the Concord-Carlisle Youth Hockey program. He was a most encouraging coach and inspired countless young skaters. Many former players fondly remember him as their favorite coach.
Gillis lived life to the fullest, loved a good joke, western movies (knew the dialogue by heart), cribbage, organizing parties and volleyball tournaments, dancing and ice skating (not in that order). He volunteered from his earliest teens on, coaching, and as camp counselor for under-privileged children. He was a true champion for those who had less.
Every free weekend when his children were young, he packed up the camper and off the family went, rain or shine on adventures near and far. The highlight of family camping was a trip across the US and Canada. Later when his children were married, nothing gave him more pleasure than to sit at the head of table at family gatherings enjoying good food, telling stories, and ending the day with a fine cigar.
Although he lived with Multiple Sclerosis for over 30 years, he never once complained. Never. He kept his spirits up and amazed everyone around him with his positive attitude. He will be missed by his dear friend and caregiver of over 26 years, Miguel Sanchez (Fitchburg, MA).
He was an ordinary yet extraordinary man. He was a person whom everyone wanted to be around. His sense of humor, compassion and pride in his family help us understand that it is life’s small details and the connections and love we share that make a life great.
On Saturday, September 30, 2017, a visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by a memorial service at 1 p.m. in the Dee Funeral Home, 27 Bedford St., Concord, MA.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to MS Society:
nationalmssociety.org/Chapters/MAM/Donate Or by mail: Greater New England MS, 101A First Ave., Waltham, MA 02451.
To share a remembrance or to send a condolence in his online guestbook, please visit www.deefuneralhome.com.