Phyllis Ann Gillette passed away on Sunday, October 14th, at her home in Chatham, NJ, where she and her late husband, Robert Gillette spent most of their married life and raised two children, Geoff Gillette and Debby Hennessy, both residents of Chatham.
Born in Webster, MA on October 26, 1922, Phyllis (née Lavery) worked as a registered nurse at Boston’s Mass General Hospital before marrying, in a whirlwind wartime romance, Bob Gillette, the young Navy sailor and G.E. engineer to whom she remained happily married for the next 62 years.
Moving to Chatham in 1952, Phyllis and Bob became very active in the community. They were among the founders of the Minisink Swim Club, and driving forces in the Chatham Players, where Phyllis starred onstage in numerous productions, as well as starring behind the scenes in the roles of Secretary (1955-7), Casting Chair (1963-65, 1967-9), Business Manager (1965-67), Stage Manager (1971), Vice President (1975-77), President (1977-79), and Production Coordinator (1970-1996), volunteering in over 48 productions. During the 1960’s at St Patrick Church, Mrs. Gillette ran a Tri-Hi-Y group and established an award-winning youth theater program. An accomplished sailor—skipper of the boats Blue Blade and Blue Blade II—Phyllis enjoyed many summers on Long Beach Island, taking a final visit there this past August. In earlier years, she traveled extensively around the world on group vacations with friends and enjoyed snow-birding in Venice, Florida. She was an avid tennis player and golfer.
Phyllis was predeceased by her beloved husband Bob, as well as by her two brothers, John and Donald Lavery. She leaves behind a family to whom she loved to call herself “the proud matriarch”: two children, Geoff and Debby, three grandchildren, Ryan (husband of Eva Tarbell Hennessy), Sean (husband of Westie Grosh Hennessy) and Kristin (wife of Eric LeMay), and two great-grandchildren, Miette and Julian. A valued member of the community, a lively conversationalist with any and all, a devoted mother, grandmother, and friend, Phyllis will be much missed.