John H. Gillis ’72

John Hector Gillis, age 70 died unexpectedly at his home on August 25, 2020. Born August 23, 1950 in Belfast, Prince Edward Island, Canada. He was the son of Preston Murdock Gillis and Alice Maud Gillis. John married his college sweetheart and the love of his life, Debora L. Frati on April 29, 1972. Recently they celebrated 48 years of marriage.

John graduated from Mount View High School in 1968 and Maine Maritime Academy in 1972. John is survived by his wife Debora of Norway, his mother Alice Gillis of Waterville, his brother Wayne and his wife Barbara of Fairfield. His son Chad of Cumberland and his daughter Carrie Ovrid and her husband Chris of Cle Elum, Washington. Grandson Tristan Gillis and his partner, Destiny Miller of Snohomish, Washington and great grandson Wesley Gillis. John was pre-deceased by his father Preston Gillis and sister Brenda Gillis.

John was a devoted husband, a loving father, grandfather and great grandfather and a good friend to many. Family meant everything to John. John was very proud of his Scottish heritage. Two years ago, he took his family to the Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands retracing his roots. John and Debora renewed their vows there in full Scottish dress. John enjoyed listening to live traditional Scottish music and was particularly fond of Prince Edward Island fiddle music like his grandfather played.

Upon graduation from Maine Maritime Academy John received his USCG 3rd Assistant Engineer’s License and went to sea for a short while before coming ashore and working as an engineer doing power plant installation and start up work. John’s career spanned more than 30 years working for several companies installing power plants all over the world. John rose to become the president of NEPCO/OEC in Bothell, Washington, one of the largest cogeneration power plant developers in the world. After the collapse of ENRON in 2002 John negotiated the sale of the company to save 5100 employees jobs.

John was recognized in 2002 as an outstanding Alumnus by Maine Maritime Academy. John was dedicated to his alma mater; he was a wall of Honor recipient, an active Alumni Association board member, Advancement Committee member and class agent. He currently was working with classmates on organizing their 50th class reunion for 2022.
John and Debora enjoyed traveling the world, recently wintering in St. Croix and traveling frequently back to Redmond Washington to visit family and friends. John looked forward to the annual tradition of fly fishing in Quebec with his son and other family members. He enjoyed boating out his front door on Norway Lake and visiting with their many friends around the lake.

John joined the Meridian Masonic Lodge #125 in Pittsfield more than 45 years ago carrying on a family tradition going back more than 200 years. He was also a member of the Kora Shrine Temple in Lewiston.
One of John’s passions was working in his wood working studio. As a master wood craftsman, he created beautiful furniture and heirloom quality wooden toys for family and friends that will be cherished for many generations.

John has made a difference in the lives of so many people throughout his life, from providing cooperative learning opportunities to more than 50 MMA students in the Power Engineering field, to funding a scholarship to deserving MMA students and leading/ supporting numerous projects to benefit his community where ever he lived. John will be missed and remembered as a kind, considerate gentleman who lived his life in service of others.

Because of the COVID 19 conditions there will not be a public celebration of John’s life at this time. In lieu of flowers you may wish to send a remembrance in John Gillis’s memory to one of the following causes that John has generously supported:

Maine Maritime Academy
John Gillis Scholarship Fund
Development Office
1 Pleasant St.
Castine, ME 04420
Responsible Pet Care
In remembrance of John Gillis
PO Box 82
Norway, ME 04268

Online condolences may be shared with his family at

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