Obituary of Matthew P. Gillis
Matthew Paul Gillis, 88, of Folsom, New Jersey, passed away at home on November 28, 2018, after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
Born February 1, 1930, at home in Pittston, PA to Mike and Mary (née Visgaitis) Gillis, Matt grew up in Pittston, and attended St Mary's Grammar School and Pittston HS (Class of 1947). He spoke Lithuanian at home, and learned English when he started school. He was a Boy Scout and a lifelong aviation enthusiast, earning his pilot's license before he was old enough to get his driver's license. Later his aviation hobby led him to become a past president of the EAA Chapter 216 (Experimental Aircraft Association) and to participate in starting the now annual air shows in Scranton PA and Pomona / Atlantic City NJ.
Matt worked as an engineer his entire career, retiring from what was then called Jefferson Park Hospital in Pennsylvania at age 70. Engineering was also one of his hobbies, and he once designed a system to turn sewage into fuel. In the 1980s, he worked with the government of Antigua and Barbuda on recycling / engineering projects. In his later years, he was interested in clean energy and mining for natural gas. Matt frequently wrote letters to the newspaper often on those topics.
Matt had many avocations and hobbies. He was an avid beekeeper, and had working beehives for many years. He also enjoyed tapping maple trees and making syrup at the family farm in Pleasant Mount, Pennsylvania. Matt passed along his lifelong love of hunting to his children, taking them on trips to the farm for deer season. Matt had a passion for the Great Books curriculum, and once had dinner with philosopher Mortimer Adler at the invitation of St. John's College Dean Eva Brann. Matt also enjoyed cooking special holiday meals for his family, especially the traditional Lithuanian Catholic "Seven Fishes" dinner for Christmas Eve. His limericks and "trammafratz" stories delighted his young children and grandchildren.
Matt was proud of his Lithuanian heritage, and particularly enjoyed chronicling his family history and researching his family's roots. He spent decades gathering information and recently completed his extensive genealogy of the Gillis and Visgaitis families.
Matt was predeceased by his brother John. He is survived by his wife, Kathi Grace; his brother Al (Lois), of Levittown, New York; his sons, Matthew (Susan), Jeffrey (Gia), Eric, Christopher (Cathy), Peter and Eddie (Joyce); his daughters, Karen (Gary), Laurel (Maura), and Paula (Krishna); and many grandchildren, a great grandchild, nieces and nephews.
The family thanks Holy Redeemer Hospice for excellent loving care given during Matt's illness. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to: Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, PO BOX 1045, 1601 Pughtown Rd, Kimberton Hills, PA 19442 www. camphillkimberton.org
A memorial service will be held in Pennsylvania to honor Matt at a later date. Close friends and family are invited to a memorial luncheon at Illiano's Restaurant in Hammonton on December 15 at noon.