Kathleen Agnes (Kelly) Gillis, 96, otherwise known as Kathleen, Kay, Bubby, Bub, Bubbles, Mom, Mummsie and Leo’s beloved “Gwendolyn” died peacefully at her home on December 2, 2021 surrounded by her family.
Kay was born in Cambridge and raised in Arlington, MA, daughter of Michael (Pop) Kelly and Eileen (Mum) Kelly. She graduated from Arlington High School in 1943, and from Mount Auburn Hospital School of Nursing in 1946. She was proud to have earned her nursing degree through the Cadet Nurse Corps program, enacted in 1943 to train nurses due to shortages experienced during World War II. She had a long and successful career working at the Veteran’s Hospital, Emerson Hospital, as a nursing instructor at Youville School of Practical Nursing, Hardwick Health Clinic, and volunteer work upon retirement.
The second oldest of the four Kelly girls. Her sister Eileen Balzer (of Arlington), passed away in 2019. She leaves two sisters, Patsy (Marguarite) Prior of Stratham, NH, and Ann Montminy (and husband Richard) of Gilford, NH.
She married the love of her life Leo R. Gillis, Sr. in 1948, and they were married 38 years until his death in 1986. They had four children who they raised in Concord, MA, and lived there until retirement. Upon retirement, they relocated to their beloved farmhouse in Vermont; however, Leo’s untimely death in 1986 ended the Vermont retirement dream. Though heartbroken, she set about going on with what life’s next chapter would hold for her, and relocated back to Boylston, MA.
Kay was often on the go, and would have her “go bag” ready for her next adventure, often telling people she “slept around”…. her description for being ready to go to anywhere at any time. Be it a formal trip, visiting one of her sisters, or one of her children’s homes on very short notice. Visiting Leo Jr. in Florida, Paul in Tennessee, Janet in Virginia or spending time at Judy’s or Paul’s Maine home for cocktails, lobsters & and hand or two of Shanghai and typical Gillis laughs and shenanigans.
She leaves her four children, Leo Gillis. Jr, of Palm Springs, FL, Paul Gillis (and wife Kathy) of Hixson, TN, Judy Illsley (and husband Tom) of S. Grafton, MA, and Janet Battaglia (and husband Frank) of Fishersville, VA. She leaves 7 grandchildren; Sandi, Paul Jr., Kevin, Sara, Chris, Julie & Jason, and with special thoughts to Brian (who died in 2002), and six great grandchildren; Mikayla, Lilyanna, Parker, Austin, Caroline, and Brady.
She also leaves many friends, friends of her age, friends of her children, grandchildren and even friends of her great grandchildren. ALL loved Mummsie! She loved to people watch and chat with anyone. She was comfortable with all, and they with her,
She died peacefully at home with her children by her side after 96 years of a life well lived. She did it her way, choosing her care, on her terms, to the end. So don’t be sad…..go have a “drinky-poo” in her memory, and remember her fondly as a truly one of a kind individual with a zest for life and a love for all those who touched her heart.
Her funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, December 7, at 10:30 A.M. in St. Luke the Evangelist Church, 70 West Main St., Westborough. Burial will follow in St. Luke’s Cemetery.
A calling hour will precede the Mass from 9 to 10 A.M. at the Pickering & Son Westborough Funeral Home, 62 West Main St., Westborough.
Kay requested in lieu of flowers, those who wished to make a small contribution may do so in her memory to Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105, or online at Make a donation to end childhood cancer - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (stjude.org) or Salmon VNA and Hospice, 37 Birch Street, Milford, MA 01757