John Michael Gillis, age 61, passed away on June 16, 2020 following a short illness. He was born on June 17, 1958 to Mary and Dexter Gillis in Marblehead, Massachusetts where he lived until he joined the United States Marine Corps. He is survived by his life partner, soul-mate, and husband of 25 years, Joel Wayne Hammett, his mother Mary Pauline Kelley Gillis, and his sister Ann Marie Gillis Finch, along with numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Michael entered active duty on December 6, 1978 and served as an enlisted Marine, being promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. In May 1986 he joined the ranks of Warrant Officer. After more than 20 years of honorable service to his Country, Michael retired on September 1, 1998 at the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3. While in the Marine Corps, Michael was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2nd Award), Navy Arctic Service Medal, Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon, Meritorious Mast (4th Award), Secretary of the Navy Letter of Commendation, and numerous Letters of Appreciation.
While on active duty, some of Michael’s educational accomplishments were completing a continuing education class on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a course of instruction in Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and being certified as a Navy/Marine Drug and Alcohol Counselor, completing the Rutgers University School of Alcohol Studies, and then completing the University of California San Diego School of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Studies, along with several drug and alcohol conferences. Michael received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology, a Master of Arts in Organizational Management, and a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems.
Following retirement from the Marine Corps Michael was employed for 15 years as a defense contractor for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Most recently, Michael followed his heart and began a career in Animal Welfare where he worked as the Operations Manager at the Austin Animal Center for two years before accepting a job with the City of Corpus Christi Police Department as the Director of Animal Care Services where he served the community for over 2 years. He was recently promoted and expected to take on the additional role of Director of Code Compliance, however due to his sudden illness, he never fully assumed that role.
Michael was a loving husband, son, brother, cousin, uncle, and most importantly, a friend to all. He enjoyed cycling and was co-founder of Team Rogue Bicycle Club of San Diego where he mentored and coached cyclist of all skill levels to successfully participate in riding 100 miles in a single day, all while raising thousands of dollars for organizations such as The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The American Diabetes Foundation, and The Wounded Warriors Project.
Michael is preceded in death by his father Dexter Gillis, his sister Sharon Carlson, and his nephew Brandon Finch.
In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to the National Prion Disease Surveillance Center, Case Western University, 2085 Adelbert Road, Room 429, Cleveland, OH 44106-4907.
Click here to view a webcast of the service on 6/26/2020 at 05:55 PM, Central Standard Time.
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