Josephine L. (Johnson) Gillis, a longtime resident of Burlington, passed away at the Lahey Hospital & Medical Center on Thursday evening, July 9, 2020 following a brief illness. Josephine was the beloved wife of the late Charles Leonard Gillis. She was 88 years old.
Josephine was born in Jamaica Plain, Boston. She was the eldest of seven children. Her parents, the late Carl R. and Nora T. Johnson, moved the family from Woburn to a new home on Sylvester Road in Burlington in the 1950’s. Josephine was a 1950 graduate from Burlington High School. She was the Art Editor of her Senior Yearbook, “The Arrowhead” and was voted “Most Artistic and Cutest” by her senior class. It was in high school that she would meet her future husband Charlie Gillis. They married on June 24, 1951, sharing 67 loving years together prior to Charlie’s passing in 2018. Josephine and Charlie purchased their home on Skelton Road in 1960, where they continued to reside. In addition to making a warm and loving home for her husband and daughter, Josephine was a career woman. Her first job was working in the maternity ward at the Charles Choate Memorial Hospital in Woburn, as a nurse’s aide, lovingly caring for the newborns. Josephine also worked as a Bookkeeper for several companies, ultimately ending her long work career, retiring from the Public Water Department in Lexington.
Josephine had many self-taught talents. She was an excellent seamstress and created Sandi’s dance recital costumes. She loved to cook and passed on that love to her daughter. She took great pride in her gardens and in her spare time, was an avid reader.
Josephine had a passion for all kinds of animals. She took in stray cats and would care for all animals that passed through her back yard. She once found a family of orphaned possums that she hand- fed by bottle, until they were ready to survive on their own.
In the late 1970’s Josephine, her husband Charlie and daughter Sandi attended Middlesex Community College, each obtaining their Associates degree in Business Science. They took evening classes for over two years, and graduated together in 1981. Josephine had a close relationship with her siblings, most especially her brother Herb, who was always there for her. Josephine will be remembered as a quiet but independent woman who had great love for her family.
Josephine was the beloved wife of the late Charles Leonard Gillis. She was the devoted mother of Sandi Roberto & her husband Joseph of Groton. Josephine was the loving sister of Carlene Clements of Amherst, Claire Giambattista of NJ, Carl H. Johnson of NJ, Herbert Johnson of Burlington, Linda Bacon of NH and the late Susan Johnson. She is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and friends. Funeral Services will be private. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to a cause dear to Josephine’s heart, Billerica Cat Care Coalition, PO Box 141 North Billerica, MA 01862