The Rev. Frederick Ellsworth Gillis died on July 14, 2013 at the age of 72. Rev.
Gillis was born in Cambridge, MA on December 12, 1940 to Amy (Mann) and
Raymond Gillis. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Tufts
University in 1962. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Sacred Theology
from Harvard Divinity School in 1965.
Gillis was ordained at the Channing Unitarian Church in Rockland, MA on
April 24, 1966 where he also served as its minister from 1965-1969. He
went on to serve as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada from 1969-1977; and the Westminster
Unitarian Church of East Greenwich, RI from 1977-2003. He then served as
interim minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rutland, VT
from 2003-2004; and the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church of
Peterborough, NH from 2005-2006. He was honored with the title of
Minister Emeritus of the Westminster Unitarian Church of East Greenwich,
RI in 2003. Rev. Gillis officially retired from ministry in 2006.
Gillis faithfully served both his denomination and his community. He
served as Chair of the Fair Housing and Human Rights Association in
Rockland, MA from 1966-1967; and as a board member (1971-1973) and then
as the Vice President (1972-1973) of the Metro Area Family Planning
Association in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He also served on the Board of
Directors of the Canadian Unitarian Council from 1974-1977; and was an
active (and founding) member of the Unitarian Universalist liturgical
group, the Congregation of Abraxas from 1975-1988. From 1978-1982, Rev.
Gillis served on the UUA Commission on Common Worship; as well the Board
(1979-1982), Vice President (1979), and President (1980-1983) of the
Memorial Society of Rhode Island. Later, he was elected Treasurer
(1968), Vice President (1986-1988), and President (1988-1989) of the
Ballou Channing Chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers
Association (UUMA); and served on the Executive Board of the UUMA at
large from 1989-1991.
a passion for music – especially organs and organ music – he designed
and built his own organ, and helped to design and build the organ at the
Westminster Church in East Greenwich, RI. He loved the outdoors and
could often be found hiking, kayaking and bird watching on camping trips
with his family in Newark Pond, VT.
Gillis was a 42-year member (as well as a "saint”) of the Greenfield
Group: the oldest Unitarian Universalist study group in North America.
Gillis is survived by his wife, Judy Stewart Gillis; former wife, Kate
Gillis; son Andrew Gillis and wife, Karen; son Duncan Gillis and wife,
Vanessa; stepdaughter, Tracy Terry and husband, Marc; stepdaughter,
Gillian Edeus and husband, Leif; stepdaughter, Erin Stewart and husband,
Jeff; and grandchildren, Meghan, Bailey, Fiona, Lizzie, Caroline,
Maddy, Matthew, Cate, Philip, and Henry.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 14 at 2:00 p.m. at the Westminster Unitarian Church, 119 Kenyon Ave., East Greenwich, RI 02818.
lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the UUA Living Tradition
Fund, P.O. Box 843154, Boston, MA, 02284; or to Lewy Body Research, MGH
Development Office, Attn: Shawn Fitzgibbons, 165 Cambridge St., Suite
600, Boston, MA.
Notes of condolence may be sent to Judy Gillis at 6 Wildemere Terrace, Concord, NH 03301; or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May the Love which overcomes all differences,
which heals all wounds,
which puts to flight all fears,
which reconciles all who are separated,
be in us and among us
now and always.
- The Rev. Frederick E. Gills
Reading #694, Singing the Living Tradition