Janet Gillies passed away peacefully on May 1, 2023 with family by her side at Rose Court on the Campus of Maris Grove in Glen Mills, PA. She leaves behind her loving husband of 62+ years, three children, Amanda Gillies of Wilmington, DE, Ralph Gillies of Northampton, MA and Karen Gillies Kitabwalla of Allentown, PA and two grandchildren, Matilda Kitabwalla and Hani Kitabwalla and son-in-law, Husein Kitabwalla, two brothers, Allen Johnson of Ocean Point, ME and Peter Johnson of Peterborough, New Hampshire and sister-in-law Susan Johnson of Muncie, IN, widow of Janet’s brother Lathrop who pre-deceased.
Janet led an interesting life with numerous stories to tell: travelling around the world before the age of five as her parents served as Christian teaching missionaries in Tehran, Iran in the 1930’s, then in 1939 travelling east through India, China and Japan as the war began in Europe to reach home in the U.S. After several years in public schools in Kansas City, MO where her father was Head Pastor at the Second Presbyterian Church, the family headed back to the Middle East in 1948 to Beirut, Lebanon when father became liaison for the Church Missionary Board. High School in Beirut, returning to college at Wellesley in Massachusetts (studying history and international relations, life-long interests) and back to Beirut where she taught history to Arab girls for two years. Then to Boston working for the Mission Board. During this time, she met husband-to-be, Chuck Gillies. Her Middle East experiences made her a life-long strong supporter of Palestinian rights and interpreter of Islam to the Judeo-Christian world.
Married life continued the mixture of international and at home experiences. First in 1961-63 teaching with Chuck with Teachers for East Africa in Moshi, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) where Amanda was born, then supporting Chuck with his teaching and headmaster career with stints in Rockland County NY, where Ralph was born, Princeton, NJ where Karen was born to Evanston, Illinois, then overseas, again to Brussels, Belgium, where Chuck was Headmaster at the International School of Brussels, then to Traverse City, MI, Blairstown, New Jersey, Amherst and Easthampton, MA and finally, close to where she was born in Philadelphia, to Glen Mills, PA.
Through this all besides being a supportive faculty and headmaster’s wife she pursued a variety of teaching experiences at the high school, college and community level. She also mastered a variety of fiber arts – from creative knitting projects for family and school fund-raisers, to natural dyeing to macrame and, finally to what she considered the ‘pinnacle’ of those arts – bobbin lace, an interest begun while living in Brussels.
In addition, she did interesting community work, first, while in Illinois as a local leader of an effort to publicize the experience of the French “voyagers,” who first opened and settled the mid-west (which inspired many family canoeing adventures) then as leader of a “before its time” program on alternative energy at an ecology center in Evanston, IL including the building of solar panels in the 1970’s, a project she wrote a book about.
Janet and Chuck had been married for more than 62 years when she passed.
Services are private. Online condolences may be made by visiting www.paganofuneralhome.com