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Willis Gillett Obituary (2022) – Naperville, IL

Willis Moon Gillett (Will) age 85, US Army Veteran, a resident of Naples, FL and former long-term resident of Naperville, IL died peacefully on May 17, 2022. Will was born in Baraboo, WI on June 24th, 1936 to the late Elton and Mabel Gillett (nee Moon). He attended Rosendale High School and then received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW). Later in life, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Benedictine University. Will was preceded in death by his beloved first wife Margaret Gillett (nee Mullen), his parents Elton and Mabel Gillett, his brothers Harold and Donald Gillett and his loving in-laws John H and Helen Mullen (nee Elser). He is survived by his loving wife Kathleen Chapman Gillett (nee Ford), his daughter, Jane (Robert) Brandt, his son John M. (Carol) Gillett, his grandsons John W. (Catherine) Gillett, Bryce (Brittnee) Gillett, and was a fond uncle, great uncle, and friend to many. After graduating from UW, he began his career at Wilson Foods, in Albert Lea, MN. He worked for Wilson for many years, where he secured the hamburger business with McDonalds as a supplier. He went into partnership as president and CEO of Fresh Start Food Limited Partnership, which supplied burger buns, English muffins, and beef tallow to McDonalds all over the world. He and his partners sold the business in 1994 to Campbell Foods and Cargill. Will was the Chairman of the Board at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. Upon his retirement from the Board, he received the St. Benedict Medal for his service to the University over a span of 20 years and was honored with a building named for him on the Tempe Arizona campus of Benedictine University. Will was President of the Board of Directors of Marianjoy Hospital in Wheaton, served on the DuPage Community Foundation Board of Trustees whose mission is to foster philanthropy, connect donors to area needs, and build community partnerships. In 2005 he received the Philanthropic Leadership Award and remains on as a Trustee Emerita. He was also a member of the DuPage $100 club which supports police, firefighters, paramedics, sheriffs, and other public safety personnel families who suffer financial hardship due to tragedy. He also served as President of Naperville Country Club and was on the Board of Chicago Golf Club and The Boy Scouts of America. Will was an avid golfer who was a member of Naperville Country Club, Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples, FL, and Royal Durnoch in Dornoch, Scotland. The highlight of his golf passion was his opportunity to play golf at Augusta National Golf Club. As an avid sports fan, Will cherished the opportunity to spend time with family and friends attending Wisconsin Badgers football games and cheering on the Green Bay Packers. Will was well known for his kindness, generosity, and sense of humor. For all of us who knew and loved him we need to remember his often shared advice “don’t take any wooden nickels”, “behave yourselves” and to his employees “feel free to go out and sell something” and his always famous line “I’m busier than a one armed paper hanger”. The memorial visitation will be held Thursday, June 2, 2022, 4:00pm-8:00pm at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 44 S Mill St., Naperville. All are invited to gather for the Memorial Mass on June 3, 2022, 11:00am at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 1450 Green Trails Dr., Naperville. Will was proud to have grown up on a family-owned dairy farm in Rosendale, WI which has the longest running awarding winning line of Holstein cows and remains in the family to this day. He hoped to make it possible for others from his background to have the same college experience he had by setting up The Willis M Gillett Rural Student Scholarship Fund. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution to The Willis M Gillett Rural Student Scholarship Fund at University of Wisconsin. https://supportuw.org/giveto/GilletRuralFund For information please call 630/355-0213 or visit www.friedrich-jones.com

Published by Naperville Sun on May 27, 2022.

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