It is with great sadness that the family of Alvin Gillies must share news of his passing. Alvin slipped away peacefully from natural causes on Dec. 14, 2019.
Alvin was born on Feb. 10, 1933. London, Ont. was home during his formative years.
His father was away at war during much of his childhood. Raised by a strong, confident mother and the oldest of five, Alvin learned to be conscientious, generous, hard-working and a natural leader—characteristics he brought into adulthood.
Learning was a passion for Alvin. He was the first of his family to attend university.
He received his teaching certificate from London Teachers College, completed a Bachelor of Arts (University of Western Ontario) and a Master of Education (University of Toronto).
He began his career in 1955 in a grade five classroom with 45 students. He continued teaching with the London Board of Education eventually becoming a math consultant and principal.
Responding to an opportunity to work abroad, from 1960-1963, Alvin taught on the Canadian Forces Base Baden-Soellingen. It was there he met the love of his life, Margarete. They were married on April 17, 1965 in Trenton, Ont.
Adventurous spirits led Alvin and Marg to move to Northwestern Ontario in 1970 where Alvin became Superintendent of Instruction for the Fort Frances-Rainy River Board of Education.
He was promoted to director in 1976, a role he kept until retirement in 1990.
Alvin was known for his dedication to helping all students succeed and for developing innovative programs in communities and schools across the District.
In 1998, Alvin and Marg moved to Guelph, Ont. Alvin enjoyed an active lifestyle in the “Village by the Arboretum.”
He was an involved member of Royal City Daylight Lodge and in 2018, was awarded his 60-year pin with the Masonic order.
Alvin was an adept electrician, plumber and carpenter who in his spare time built the family cabin on Rainy Lake.
He proudly contributed to the finishing of each of his houses, including building a grand fireplace with stones he collected himself.
His hobbies included photography, reading, and fixing the family cars.
He imparted his love of exploring to his children and grandchildren.
He was privileged to have had opportunities to travel extensively across all seven continents.
He was known for sampling ice cream, cheese, chocolate and local delicacies along the way. From street food to fine-dining, he wanted to try it all.
Alvin loved his family deeply and was always proud to celebrate their achievements.
He is survived by his wife, Marg; daughters, Charene (Shawn) and Liane (Theo) of Toronto, and Leesa (Steve) of Stratford; one granddaughter, Alexandra, and five grandsons, Owen, Jasper, Sam, Moses, and Darwin.
He is also survived by siblings, Eugene (Sheila) of St. Catharines and Sharon Basic of London.
His siblings, Ronald (2014) and Evelyn (2019), and brother-in-law, Ferdo Basic (2006), predeceased him.
A celebration of life will be held at Gilchrist Chapel, McIntyre & Wilkie Funeral Home, One Delhi Street, Guelph, Ont., on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Family and friends are invited to drop-in to honour Alvin between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to Pathways to Education (https://www.pathwaystoeducation.ca/) or to an education-focused charity of your choice.
We invite you to leave your memories and donations online at www.gilchristchapel.com and they will be forwarded to the family.