Bruce J. Gillies Sr., of Portland, Maine, passed away on 20 January 2019. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut on 15 July 1933, the first child and son of James A. Gillies Sr. and Virginia (Toole) Gillies.
Bruce was well educated at The Fessenden School, Morse High in Bath, The Choate School, and ultimately graduated from Hamden High, Hamden CT in 1953. Upon graduation in 1957 from Norwich University, Northfield VT, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. While serving, Bruce supervised the training of soldiers in the fine art of grenade throwing and commanded a company of tanks.
Upon his honorable discharge from the Army, Bruce ventured west where he started his lumber career, as a fifth generation Gillies, working in sawmills in Oregon and the state of Washington. He entered the sales end of the business with Weyerhauser Forest Products as a salesman in 1959, starting in Tacoma, WA. He was then transferred to EL Paso, TX, then on to Denver, CO., building each territory successfully. Bruce moved back to Maine upon the death of his father in 1964, who himself owned and operated lumber manufacturing mills.
Bruce and his brother, Jim, ran the family business for two years. Shortly thereafter, Bruce opened an office for Turgeon Brothers in Concord, NH. It was during this time that he and his future business partner, Bud Prittie, started to discuss a wholesale distribution niche. In the late 60’s they opened a small yard in Concord, NH under the name of Cooper-Widman. In 1973 they pooled what money they had and incorporated Gillies and Prittie, Inc. Together they built a successful wholesale lumber business that is still going strong. Up until recently, Bruce was at the office 5 days a week buying and selling lumber, and offering wisdom that only one had with such a strong passion for the lumber business.
Bruce was a skilled and fearless hockey goalie, selected as an All-American and team captain while at Norwich. Bruce would share stories about his Head Coach Bob Priestly along with his brief stint with the New Haven Nutmegs after college. While in Concord, Bruce played for the Concord Shamrocks. He was so popular as a player that after a fire at his home, the entire proceeds from a game were donated to him and his family. Along with his player accomplishments, he was an instrumental member of the team that founded the Concord, NH Youth Hockey Association.
Bruce was a very active airplane pilot, having accumulated over 2,500 flight hours during his lifetime. He was a longstanding member of the Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the non-profit organization, Angel Flight. Bruce logged over 120 flights for Angel Flight, bringing patients from all over New England (including northern Maine) to their cancer and other medical treatments free of charge. As a cancer survivor, he quietly paid it forward and truly found it to be his passion to help where he could.
Along with flying, a favorite endeavor of Bruce’s was mountain hiking. Together with members of Outward Bound, on his own or with family, Bruce traveled to Scotland and even Russia to hike, and climbed regularly in the White Mountains. Bruce was also a member of Hoo Hoo, an American Lumber Association, and was very active as a hockey and lacrosse referee.
Bruce is survived by a large and loving family including three sons, Kurt (Paula Colgan-Heath) Gillies of Pembroke, NH, Bruce (Debbie) Gillies of South Portland and Chris (Trina) Gillies of Littleton, CO. Also surviving are his siblings, Jim (Susan) Gillies of Bath, Dillon (Paula) Gillies of Scarborough, Gordon (Mary) Gillies of Starks and Mary “Sissy” (Michael) Leonard of Machias. He leaves behind six grandchildren: Jonathan, Cameron, Gunnar, Gannon, Grayson and Maeve, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Bruce’s family would like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Jacquelyn A. Hedlund, Dr. Timothy Baum and Dr. Andreas Stefan for their heartening guidance and treatment efforts over the years. The doctors and nurses at Maine Medical, and the team of angels from Southern NH Hospice are also recipients of the family’s gratitude for their services during Bruce’s final days.
A family graveside service will be held at a later date at Oak Grove Cemetery in Bath. Memorial contributions may be made to Angel Flight Northeast at Angel Flight NE, Lawrence Municipal Airport, 492 Sutton St., North Andover, MA 01845 or angelflightne.org and Hospice of Southern Maine, 180 US Route One, Scarborough, ME 04074 or www.hospiceofsouthernmaine.org/giving. Condolences may be made online at www.Daiglefuneralhome.com.
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Angel Flight NE
Lawrence Municipal Airport, 492 Sutton Street, North Andover MA 01845
Hospice of Southern Maine, HSM
180 US Route One, Scarborough ME 04074