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John P. Gilson 1955-2020

Updated: Mar 11


JOHN P. GILSON, Beloved Husband and Father.


John “Jack” P. Gilson (64), of Canton, CT, died March 2nd at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford, after a valiant battle with cancer.


Born in Pittsfield, MA, Jack was the son of the late Richard C. and Katherine (McGowan) Gilson. He graduated from Lenox Memorial High School in 1974, where he was class vice president and an accomplished athlete lettering in three varsity sports. As captain, he led the boys’ basketball team to a state championship in 1974. He attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and graduated from Northwestern Connecticut Community College in Winsted, CT.


He worked for Simsbury Public Schools for 22 years. Before retiring, he was vice president of NAGE Local 260. Before, during and after his professional career, he pursued music with a passion. A self-taught, gifted musician, he played the electric bass, acoustic and electric guitar in local bands, with friends, and later as a private music teacher. He taught individual students and groups of students in homes and senior centers throughout the local area. He also regularly played the guitar for area nursing homes, to the delight of residents and their families, often eliciting reactions from seniors who were normally withdrawn and silent.


Family gatherings will never be the same without the sing-alongs led by Jack and his son, Matt.


Jack was also a talented gardener and landscaper who took great pride in his meticulous lawn. Prior to working in the Simsbury schools, he was a propagator for White Flower Farm, in Litchfield, CT, where he mastered his gardening expertise and developed a lifelong love for flowers and lawns.


Jack is survived by his beloved wife, Debra (Hoethke) whom he married in Waterbury, CT, in 1987; his son, Matthew and daughter-in-law Mary Gilson of Burlington, VT; his daughter Lauren Gilson of West Hartford, CT; two sisters, Elizabeth Gilson Clancy (Gerald) of Hopkinton, NH, and Katherine Gilson Gallagher (Denis) of Burlington, MA; an aunt, Mary Spina; an uncle, Charles D. Gilson; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and brothers- and sisters-in-law.


Jack will be remembered for his love of family and friends, his music, his gardening, and his incredible spirit and determination.


There are no calling hours. A private celebration of life will be held at a later date. Donations in Jack’s honor may be made to the Connecticut Multiple Sclerosis Society referencing their annual fundraising team in the memo line “Team Waves of Hope”: National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, 659 Tower Ave., First Floor, Hartford, CT 06112.


Jack’s family would like to thank the staff at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center for their kind and compassionate care.


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