By ROBERT BOSWORTH
Funeral arrangements have been announced for beloved public servant John M. Gillis, Quincy’s longest serving city clerk and former Norfolk County commissioner, who embodied the pride of Quincy Point. Mr. Gillis died Wednesday at the age of 91.
Visiting hours will be Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Sweeney Brothers Home for Funerals, 1 Independence Ave., Quincy.
A funeral Mass for Mr. Gillis will be celebrated Monday at 10 a.m. in Saint John the Baptist Church, School Street, Quincy.
Mr. Gillis, a lifelong Quincy Point resident and respected public servant, served 33 years as Quincy city clerk – the longest tenure in city history. He also served 23 years as a Norfolk County Commissioner before stepping down in 2015 at the age of 90. He retired as city clerk in 1992.
Born May 16, 1925, Mr. Gillis was raised in Quincy Point. He attended the Adams Elementary School and Quincy Point Junior High School before graduating from Quincy High School in 1943. He then enlisted in the U.S. Marines and saw action in the Battle of Saipan, a battle in the Pacific campaign of World War II.
After the war in 1947, Mr. Gillis became a Quincy firefighter and was stationed at Central Headquarters. But six months later, Mr. Gillis opted to go to college. He graduated in 1953 from Northeastern University with a degree in accounting.
Mr. Gillis worked as a state auditor from 1952 to 1956 before becoming assistant city clerk in 1957. Two years later, Mr. Gillis was unanimously elected city clerk by the City Council succeeding the late Allen Cole. It was an historic occasion: Mr. Gillis became the first Democrat to serve as city clerk in Quincy history. At age 34, he was also one of the youngest.
During his 33-year tenure as city clerk – the longest ever in Quincy – Mr. Gillis served during the administrations of seven mayors: Amelio Della Chiesa, James McIntyre, Walter Hannon, Joseph LaRaia, Arthur Tobin, Frank McCauley and James Sheets.
In 1992, Gillis stepped down as city clerk but he did not retire from public service. Instead, he started a new chapter in his public service career winning a four-year term as a Norfolk County commissioner that fall. He was re-elected five times (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012). He stepped down in 2015 and his seat was filled by Joseph Shea who also succeeded him as city clerk.
As a Norfolk County commissioner, Mr. Gillis advocated for $30 million in state funding to expand the Norfolk County Agricultural High School. He said enlarging the building would expand enrollment and allow more students to attend the school. He also favored expanding the function facility at Presidents Golf Course in Quincy.
Mr. Gillis was also active in many community and veterans organizations.
He was a member of the Quincy Democratic City Committee, a former commander of the Quincy Veterans Council and a former grand knight of the Knights of Columbus.
He was a member of the Quincy Lodge of Elks, the George F. Bryan VFW Post, Caddy Detachment Marine Corps League and the Cyril P. Morrisette American Legion Post. He was also a member of the Quincy High School Football Hall of Fame and QHS Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mr. Gillis was proud of his Quincy Point roots. One of his first jobs was selling newspapers outside the main gate at the Quincy shipyard. He often treated his friends by buying tickets to the movies at the Lincoln Theater.
“The Point was a great place to be brought up,” Gills fondly recalled in a 2011 interview. “We had every ethnic group, religion and nationality. You were either a good guy or a bad guy. Those other things didn’t matter.”
In 2011, Mr. Gillis was honored with The Henry W. Bosworth, Jr. Memorial Citizenship Award presented by The Quincy Sun. Mr. Gillis and Mr. Bosworth was longtime friends.
Mr. Bosworth once said of his boyhood buddy:
“As city clerk, he bent over backwards to accommodate the public. And wearing his other hat as chairman of the City License Board, he was a champion of the little guy – especially one who needed a license to start a small business.”
During his tenure as clerk, it was Mr. Gillis who advocated for punch-card ballots to replace the old paper ballots. The city finally switched to punch-cards during the administration of former Mayor Francis McCauley who along with Gillis agreed retiring paper ballots would save the city money and pay for themselves – which it did.
The city has since moved on to the opt-scan voting method.
Mr. Gillis called the city clerk’s position the best job in municipal government because “you can do favors for people. You’re always helping someone out.
“You can help the little guy.”
Mayor Thomas Koch called Mr. Gillis “a giant” in Quincy and a “blessing to everyone.”
“John was a giant in this City and a true blessing to everyone, including myself, lucky enough to call him a friend. His love of Quincy was unmatched, his service unparalleled, and the dignity and respect with which he treated everyone he met through the years will long stand as a model for anyone in public service.
“He was a great mentor to many and helped countless more in ways large and small. That legacy will undoubtedly carry on. On behalf of our community, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to his daughter, Pam, and his grandchildren,” Koch said.
Complete obituary http://thequincysun.com/2017/04/27/john-m-gillis-91/
By SCOTT JACKSON
Seven people were sent to area hospitals Wednesday morning after a crash involving three vehicles, including a school bus, on Southern Artery in Quincy Point.
Paul Griffith, a deputy chief with the Quincy Fire Department, said three children on the bus – who appeared to be 4 or 5 years old – were taken to Quincy Medical Center. Two people in an SUV and the driver of a truck were likewise taken to QMC. The school bus driver, a woman, was taken to South Shore Hospital.
Griffith said the injuries all appeared to be minor; the bus driver was the most seriously injured.
The Quincy Police Department said on social media the injuries were all non-life threatening.
The crash occurred Wednesday near the intersection of Southern Artery and South Street, in the vicinity of the apartment complex at 1000 Southern Artery. Griffith said it was called in around 10:45 a.m. and fire crews remained on scene until shortly after 1 p.m.
Police closed Southern Artery to traffic in both directions as the crash reconstruction team investigated the collision. The roadway re-opened around 2 p.m.
By SCOTT JACKSON
The city will host a series of neighborhood meetings this spring, the first step in Mayor Thomas Koch’s community-wide planning initiative as Quincy’s quadricentennial in 2025 approaches.
Koch announced the initiative – known as Quincy 400 – Tuesday night in the Great Hall of the McIntyre Government Center. The initiative will focus on long-term planning, with particular emphasis on the question “Where do you want Quincy to be in 2025?”
“This is the beginning of a conversation – a conversation between all of us, with all of us, with the idea that we involve every person that wants to be involved, every part of our city, every neighborhood, to engage, to listen, to participate and to create and mold what we want the city to be going forward,” Koch told the crowd of about 100 residents and community leaders present Tuesday night.
“It’s the beginning of a discussion. We want to touch all aspects of civic life…We’re going to be listening to a lot of community input.”
Koch said the Quincy 400 initiative would have four major themes: Neighborhoods; education; history, arts and culture; economic growth and tourism; transportation and capital assets; and health and wellness.
The first step in the Quincy 400 initiative is a series of six neighborhood meetings this spring. The meetings will be held May 23 at the Kennedy Center, 440 E. Squantum St.; May 25 at Broad Meadows Middle School, 50 Calvin Rd.; May 31 at the Wollaston Elementary School, 205 Beale St.; June 20 at McKay’s Breakfast & Lunch, 144 Franklin St,; June 21 at the Quincy Lodge of Elks, lower level, 254 Quarry St.; and June 27 at Beechwood Knoll, 225 Fenno St.
Each meeting will start at 6 p.m.
Residents and community members can also leave feedback on the city’s website for the initiative – Quincy400.com – which includes a link to a brief survey.
Following the community meetings, city officials will put together working groups of community members for each of the six themes Koch identified. The working groups will meet through the spring of 2018, and the initial Quincy 400 report will be released that fall. Implementation would take place between 2019 and 2025, and the Quincy 400 report would be updated during that time.
Before announcing the initiative Tuesday, Koch played a five-minute video that included appearances by Gov. Charlie Baker and David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian.
“Quincy is 392 years old – soon to be 400,” Baker said in the video. “The mayor’s notion that we should spend the next few years thinking about what that all means and what the future should look like in terms of economic development, transportation, neighborhood development, downtown development and all the rest is a great way to get folks involved in thinking about what the next couple of centuries might look like in Quincy.”
By SCOTT JACKSON
The United States’ highest-ranking military officer will be the keynote speaker at the 30th annual wreath-laying ceremony to honor Quincy residents who served in the Vietnam War.
The ceremony, organized by the Vietnam Combat Veterans Combined Armed Forces Quincy Chapter, is set for 2 p.m. on Thursday at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Clock Tower at 500 Victory Rd. in Marina Bay. Dedicated in 1987, the clock tower is inscribed with the names of the 48 Quincy residents who died as a result of injuries sustained in the war.
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be the keynote speaker at the event. Dunford, who grew up in Quincy, was the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps prior to his appointment as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 2015.
Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Thomas Koch and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch are also expected to speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony.
Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Daniel Clark – known as the ‘Singing Trooper’ – will sing the national anthem, followed by a fly-over by the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing, in the Missing Man formation.
At least eight prisoners of war are expected to attend, as well as two Medal of Honor recipients, one Medal of Honor nominee and three recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross. The Medal of Honor nominee – Army medic James McCloughan – will sing “Proud To Be An American.”
Retired Quincy police officers Richard Churchill and Gerard Nichol will lay a wreath at the base of the clock tower and read the memorial roll call. Retired Quincy police Lt. Thomas Bolinder, a retired Marine Corps sergeant, will introduce veterans and their families.
Robert LaFleur, commander of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 79, will sound “Taps” and the Second Marine Division will provide a firing detail.
Lawrence Norton, the president of the Quincy Chapter of the VCVCAF, said he hopes more than 1,000 people attend the ceremony. Norton, 73, has organized the past 26 annual ceremonies held at the clock tower. He said this one will be the last major ceremony; smaller ceremonies with wreath layings will be held in the future.
The day’s events will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a ceremony at Flags for Veterans Island at Fort Square. At 10 a.m., a ceremony will be held at the POW Monument in McIntyre Mall outside City Hall.
At 11 a.m., an assembly will be held inside the North Quincy High School auditorium for seniors at the school. Retired Navy Capt. Richard Stratton and Navy veteran Robert Brudno are slated to speak at the assembly.
Stratton, a 1953 North graduate, was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for six years. Brudno, a 1962 graduate of North, is the brother of the late E. Alan Brudno, who spent seven-and-half-years as prisoner of war in Vietnam and took his own life four months after his release.
Dunford moved to Quincy from Boston at the age of 12. He graduated from the former St. Ann’s School in Quincy, Boston College High School and St. Michael’s University in Vermont before enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1977.
Dunford served as commandant of the Marine Corps from October 2014 to October 2015, when he was appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Prior to being appointed commandant of the Marine Corps, General Dunford – known as “Fighting Joe” – served as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. In that capacity, he oversaw all U.S. and allied troops in the country.
Before that Dunford served two years as the Marine Corps’ assistant commandant. He was also an infantry officer at all levels. He commanded the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, and he commanded the 5th Marine Regiment during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Dunford’s parents – Joseph Sr. and Katherine – still reside in Merrymount. Joseph Sr. served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, rising to the rank of sergeant. He then served in the Boston Police Department for 40 years, retiring as a deputy superintendent.
Members of the Quincy Fire Department and Quincy Police Department will take to the ice in the Tim Tobin Memorial “GUNS-n-HOSES” Charity Hockey Game Saturday, May 13 at 6 p.m. at the Quincy Youth Hockey Arena.
The game, a benefit for the non-profit ALS ONE, was conceived by Tobin’s son, Kevin, a lieutenant on the Quincy Police force, who worked alongside his father for seven years.
In August, 2016, Tim Tobin lost his battle to ALS. Since losing his father, Kevin has mobilized his co-workers, friends and colleagues, to join in the fight against ALS through partnering with ALS ONE, the non-profit created by Hanover resident, Kevin Gosnell, who passed away a week prior to Tobin, to cure ALS by 2020, while greatly improving the care of those currently battling the disease.
In November, the Quincy Police Department, raised over $5,000 for ALS ONE, through their A Lotta Stache campaign, where officers grew out their mustaches in an effort to raise funds and awareness for ALS. Buoyed by the success of that campaign, Kevin enlisted the help of Quincy Fire to join together in a charity hockey game on May 13th.
The last time a GUNS-n-HOSES charity hockey game was played in Quincy, the men were able to raise close to $20k for charity and the hope is that they will match or exceed this amount for ALS ONE.
ALS ONE is a partnership of leading physicians, scientists and care providers in the ALS space – collaborating on a shared science plan to find a cure for ALS by 2020.
The Tobin family is a well-known name around Quincy and law enforcement. Kevin, Tim, one of Tim’s brothers and three of Kevin’s cousins were all on the Quincy force at one point.
“The likes of Tim Tobin don’t come around too often,” Lt. Tobin said. “If I could be half the cop and father he was, that’d be great.”
Tickets to the game are $25 and can be purchased online. To purchase tickets, sponsor the game, or learn more, visit the event site here: http://bit.ly/TIMTOBIN
The event is a family-friendly affair and the public is encouraged to attend with children, friends and family members.
There will be raffles and prizes and other surprises at the game.