William Edward Gillis passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, at his home in Lemon Cove, surrounded by family and friends. He was 81.
Bill was born June 7, 1936, in Sanger to Robert and Blanch Gillis. He attended Sanger High School.
On Sept. 16, 1956, he married his sweetheart, Velma Stone, of Reedley, in Reno, Nev.
Bill worked for four years with the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter. He then joined the U.S. Air Force, where he served four years as a jet mechanic at George Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif. After his discharge, he was employed for 34 years with Caltrans.
Bill was an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoyed the outdoors. For many years he served as the leader for the Boy Scouts troop in Lemon Cove. He also enjoyed reading, gardening and working on various woodworking projects in his workshop.
Bill is survived by his wife of 61 years, Velma, of Lemon Cove; his daughter, Carol, and husband Richard Santana of Lemon Cove; grandchildren Misty and husband Ryan Wallace of Woodlake, Lori and husband Thomas Dixon of Visalia, Melissa Santana of Exeter, Ryan and wife Amy Gillis of Exeter, and Rena VanMeter of Oregon; great-grandchildren Chase, Connor and Cayden Wallace and Dominic Gillis; great-great-grandchildren Skylar Dixon and Ellis Kravetz; sister-in-law Virginia Sowl of New York; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Besides his parents and siblings, he was preceded in death by sons, Don and Ron Gillis, and a granddaughter, Alicia Santana.
A service was held Tuesday, Oct. 24, followed by burial in the Woodlake Public Cemetery.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.evansmillerguinnchapel.com.