Obituary Archie Gillies - December 2, 2016


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Archie Gillies of Southampton, Ontario, formerly of Kitchener-Waterloo, passed away peacefully in his 92nd year on the morning of December 2, 2016 with his daughter by his side.

He is predeceased by his beloved son Jamie. He is also predeceased by his dear siblings; loving sister Barbara Marie O’Connor (Gerald), and brothers Claire Gillies and Bruce Gillies, by his dear cousin Mary Cianciolo (John), and most cherished aunt, Myrtle McCallum. He is survived by his loving daughter, Dr. Mary-Melinda Gillies. Born during a snowstorm in Walkerton, Ontario, 91 years ago, he was the first born of Duncan and Rose Gillies of Hamilton.

He graduated from Cathedral Boys High School in Hamilton while working many different jobs alongside his father during the Great Depression, to provide for their family.

A former tail-gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force at the end of WWII, Archie started his early career in sales with General Motors for Western Canada, and often enjoyed exploring the Peace River country with other adventurers, young and old.

A true visionary, he started his long career in public service with Chambers of Commerce, Visitor and Convention Bureaus and Economic Development (Board of Trade) with the City of Saint John, New Brunswick in 1961.

Moving to Kitchener in 1964 with his young family, he spent more than 20 years as Executive Director of the Kitchener Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Commissioner, Director of Economic and Business Development, and Director of the Kitchener Visitor and Convention Bureau.

As Industrial Commissioner, Archie was key in acquiring land for the city, and integral in developing Kitchener’s Industrial Park. He represented Kitchener tirelessly across Canada and around the globe, having tremendous success enticing businesses, including Budd Automotive, to expand or re-locate to the City of Kitchener, as well as supporting and encouraging small businesses and private entrepreneurs. In doing so, he created thousands of life-long jobs for workers and their families in the K-W area. Just as importantly, if a company did not choose Kitchener, Archie would jump forward to assist in bringing those companies to Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph and surrounding areas knowing that it would benefit families in Kitchener as well.

With his dear friend and colleague, the late Mr. Charles Greb, he was a member of the founding group, and original member of the Board of Directors of KW Oktoberfest, and later sat on the Oktoberfest Women’s Committee.

He was also integral in saving the Old City Hall Clock Tower, now standing in Victoria Park, and along side Mrs. Mabel Krug, in the founding of The Centre in the Square.

He was a Rotarian and a dedicated community leader who served in supporting and promoting community welfare, culture and the arts as a long time Director and board member of the St. Agatha Children’s Village, the KW Art Gallery, Wilfred Laurier University Board of Governors and is a past President of the Southwestern Ontario CAA.

After his retirement from the City of Kitchener, Archie was enlisted by Bruce County to head up their Business Development program.  After his second retirement, he was enlisted by the City of Yellowknife, and by the Town of Chesley after his third. Finally, retiring close to 80, Archie focused on serving the communities of Southampton and Port Elgin. He was most interested in the development of health and education in the area, spearheading the building of the Saugeen Shores Medical Building in Southampton, the physicians recruitment committee and taking an active role with the Bluewater Board of Education.

As a very involved member of the Southampton Propeller Club, he enjoyed and participated in the Chantry Island restoration project from the very beginning. Having much to offer at the Bruce County Museum (Southampton) he was very active in their fundraising and long term planning. As a member of St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Catholic community for over 70 years, he was an active member and very much enjoyed the friendship of his church community.

Throughout his life, Archie led by example, showing unwavering kindness and forgiveness, always ready to lend a helping hand or open ear, serving his communities of which, he was so proud, and maintaining the most positive of attitudes. He taught his children the value of loyalty; to be fully accepting of everyone -especially our most vulnerable; to treat all with kindness and respect; to believe that the world really is small and reach out and serve whenever possible; to never give up; to be confident that nothing is impossible, and to always read the instructions first. Archie will be so sadly missed by his loving daughter.

He will also be greatly missed, but remember with love and so many joyful memories by his dear sisters-in-law Francis Gillies and Joyce Gillies, his cousins Ms. Jean Gillies-Zimmer (Frank), Ian Gillies (Sherry) Barbara Miller, and  Eleanore Gillies-Saliba (Isa), Doris Gillies-Davidson (James), Gwen Gillies-Williamson (David), Megan Gillies-Lefolii (Ken); Lynne Gillies-Thompson, his cherished friends Isobel MacDougall, Eileen Biener, Heather White, and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Smythe, his nieces and nephews from the Gillies, O’Connor, Cianciolo, and Kaufman families, all of his many, many friends, and the community at large.

His daughter would like to express her heartfelt appreciation and thanks to dear friends Dorothy Francis,  Mike Sterling,  David Bour, and Bill Moulton for their unwavering moral support and friendship over the past couple of years, while she cared for Archie at home. He fought the good fight. He finished his race and kept his faith. He is receiving his eternal reward.

Visitation will be held in Jubilee Hall, St. Joseph’s Parish 920 Wellington Street, Port Elgin, ON on Saturday, December 10, 2016 from 10:00 -11:00 am, immediately followed by the Funeral Mass.

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