Born December 2, 1925, in Melbourne, Florida to Rexford William and Fay Bartling Gillies, Dee Ann Gillies passed on Monday October 9th, 2023, at the age of 97 years. She attended Elementary School in Pontiac, Michigan, and Middle School in Jefferson Center, Whitley County, Indiana. During her younger years she grew up in a comfortable household in Pontiac. However, after the beginning of the depression, she moved with her family to a small farm, living in relatively austere conditions surrounded by country beauty and bucolic scenes. At the end of her junior year in Whitley County, she was asked by a friend to accompany her to Central Catholic school in Fort Wayne, Indiana as her friend applied for a summer job in the local hospital adjacent to the school. The nun who was interviewing her friend assumed that Dee Ann was also applying so she interviewed her for the summer job in the hospital and Dee Ann was hired. This happy circumstance would change her life.
Under the tutelage of the Catholic staff at the hospital, Dee Ann received her nursing certification from St. Joseph Hospital. Since she was not yet 18, she could not legally take her R.N. certification test to receive her credential. While she waited to take her test, she attended the Indiana University School of Nursing, graduating Magna cum Laude and receiving her bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Dee Ann was advised after graduation to apply to Cook County Hospital in Chicago as a nurse, a job she was quickly offered. This was during the war so initially she treated soldiers returning from battle with all manner of injuries. She found the work very exciting and enjoyed working with the convalescing young men.
As a nurse at Cook County, one of the largest hospitals in the country, she worked in various wards, including a motorcycle ward, a burn ward and wards which treated alcoholics, gunshot victims and other unfortunates who were indigent and without funds to provide for their own care.
As a nurse giving care, she quickly found her strength in teaching others how to treat patients. She moved over to the Cook County School of Nursing and began a career as an educator and teacher of young prospective nurses.
While in the School of Nursing, she pursued several advanced degrees, receiving a master’s degree in nursing administration from the University of Chicago, graduating cum Laude and a second master’s degree in biology from Northeastern Illinois University. She continued her education and ultimately received a Doctorate in Educational Administration from Loyola University in Chicago.
She became the Assistant Director of Nursing at Cook County, along the way authoring nursing textbooks which were widely used in nursing schools. These included, Saunders Tests for Self-Evaluation of Nursing Competencies, Patient Assessment and Management, and Nursing Management: A Systems Approach, and Preparation for NCLEX-RN. She also authored or co-authored 28 articles for multiple nursing publications.
She was employed at Cook County for 40 years, enjoying a rich and rewarding career in her field, serendipitous as the circumstances of its choosing were. It provided her with intellectual growth, and a lifetime of service to others.
In her middle and later years, she developed other interests, including ballroom dancing and birdwatching, which she pursued with the same vigor and consuming focus given to all her activities. In later years she became interested in Genealogy, eventually tracing her ancestors to those who fought in the American Revolution as well as one of the passengers on the Mayflower. With those findings, she joined both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Mayflower Society. Her efforts in Genealogy have been of deep significance to her family and have been continued by generations after her.
Due to her comfortable income, she was able to afford the luxury of many trips to overseas destinations over the years, generously providing the opportunity for her extended family to accompany her on these trips. She traveled throughout Europe and the Far East, Mexico, and Central America. Highlights were flying around Mount Everest, trekking to the high ruins of Machu Picchu, her visit to China, and touring Europe by train.
Dee Ann was a strong and vibrant woman throughout her life until her last couple of years. There were no self-imposed limits on what she could accomplish; if she wanted to do it, she shortly found a way to make it happen. While walking with her on one of her day trips in some distant land, even though she was by far the eldest in the party she would start the day earliest, walk the fastest and the furthest, and see the most sights. As night fell, her companions would be ready to call it a day while she still had a long list of things to do and see.
Dee Ann is survived by her sister, Dana M. McDonald, her nephews John McDonald, and Hugh McDonald, three grandnephews, and five great grandnephews.
There will be a private graveside service held on the 17th of October in Columbia City, Indiana.