John Gilleece
John Gilleece

Obituary of John J. Gilleece

John J. Gilleece was born in New York City to parents Francis and Mary Gilleece.  John was many things: a good man, a great man, a brilliant and funny man; a performer, producer, director, singer, dancer, musician, songwriter, teacher, professor, leader, motivator, coach, source of inspiration and a friend to everyone.  John’s most cherished roles were as brother, father, grandfather and uncle. 

He is survived by his brother Frank Gilleece (and his wife Mary) of Long Island; predeceased by his brother Bob Gilleece of New Rochelle and sister Maureen Gilleece Harms of Brooklyn and Pennsylvania. He is the beloved father of John C. Gilleece (wife Jacqueline), Robert Gilleece (wife Krissi), Matthew Gilleece (wife Rose), Annmarie Tirado and Lisa Tirado; and grandfather to 12. He is fondly remembered by his many nephews and nieces, as well as his students whose lives he touched and nurtured. 

John graduated from St. John’s University where he met and married Lila Schmidt Gilleece. John taught English at a few Brooklyn schools including South Shore High School in Canarsie and Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach, where he met his second wife Eileen.  He was also a founding member of Kingsborough High School on the Kingsborough College campus.

John was an active member and lector in many church communities including St. Dominic’s in Bensonhurst and St. Francis de Sales in Belle Harbor. A showman all his life, as a child John was a regular on a local TV show (“The Children’s Hour”), performing songs and skits along with his brothers Frank and Bob, and sister Maureen. He sang with and led many church choirs and choral groups over the years, and formed a sing-a-long folk/Irish music trio “The Gilleece Twins and Chris Benedict” with his twin brother Frank and a friend. He performed in and directed too many community theater shows to list, and was the founder and creative director of The Rockaway Theater Company (RTC), which became a nurturing home to hundreds of performers over several decades.

John leaves a lasting legacy of love, creativity and laughter.  He is sorely missed but will never be forgotten.

The Memorial Visitation for John J. Gilleece will be held at Marine Park Funeral Home on Friday, October 27, 2023, from 3:00 to 8:00 PM. The Memorial Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, October 28, 2023, at St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church at 9:45 AM.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make donations to The Rockaway Theatre Company, an organization that was very dear to John's heart.
Checks may be mailed to:
Rockaway Theatre Company
P.O. Box 940806
Rockaway Park, NY 11694


Memorial Visitation at Funeral Home

3:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Friday, October 27, 2023
Marine Park Funeral Home, Inc.
3024 Quentin Road
Brooklyn, New York, United States

Memorial Mass

9:45 am
Saturday, October 28, 2023
St. Francis De Sales R.C. Church
129-16 Rockaway Beach Blvd
Belle Harbor, New York, United States
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