Keith Berry Gillan passed away peacefully at home in Gravenhurst, on May 1, 2023, at the age of 92. Keith was born in Muskoka to the late Jim Gillan and Ada (Berry) Gillan on March 30, 1931.
Keith was predeceased by brothers Bruce, Douglas, and Wilfred Gillan. His sister Naida Campbell passed away at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital on the same day as Keith.
Keith is survived by Lorna (Schell) Gillan, the love of his life and devoted wife for the past 64 years. He also leaves his loyal sons Blake (Jennifer), Scott (Fran), and Lee (Sharri), along with grandchildren Tyler, Kim, Amber, Laura, Cari, Emily, Jessica, great grandson Lincoln, and sister Janet Lamorie. Keith was loved and respected by his many nieces and nephews, friends, colleagues, and students.
Keith was an exceptionally industrious and creative man, with a great sense of humour. He seriously engaged with his occupations and hobbies, and was never mistaken for a dabbler. He excelled at teaching, farming, construction, music, raising a family, and being a model husband, father, and grandfather.
As a young man Keith worked for several years in property maintenance on Chaynemac Island for tycoon Nelson Davis, and in residential construction with Fred and Rod Pratt, brothers of Keith's Uncle Walter Pratt.
Keith met his bride-to-be, Lorna Schell, on the Gravenhurst area square dance circuit in the 1950's. He was a talented fiddle player who couldn't help noticing Lorna on piano. When Lorna was 19, they decided to settle down and form a family, while Keith embarked upon a successful career in teaching. Their first stop was a one room school near Kirkland Lake in 1958, followed by a move to Cobalt Coleman Public School where Keith was a teacher and then principal until returning to Muskoka in 1968. Back home he taught in Glen Orchard and Bala, and finally Gravenhurst Public School until he retired in 1986. Three months later his son Blake followed in Keith's footsteps as a new teacher.
Keith and Lorna purchased the original 1920's Gillan family homestead in Walker's Point in the early 1970's, across the road from brother Wilfred and family, and just down from sister Janet and family. Keith and Lorna looked after their three young boys on Lake Muskoka, teaching them an appreciation for outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, and snowmobiling. While teaching, Keith raised beef cattle for many years, which led to his son Scott following in his footsteps as a part-time farmer. Keith somehow found time to renovate several houses and build three from scratch, partly in conjunction with his son Lee, who developed a lifetime interest in construction.
Keith and Lorna owned and managed 13 rental houses at one point, along with Pinegrove Cottages, a site with 11 cabins and cottages owned by Lorna's family. Keith continued playing fiddle with many like-minded local musicians into his eighties, often with Lorna in the familiar place at the piano.
A serious stroke in late 2018 severely curtailed Keith's activities for the last four and a half years of his life. Nevertheless he maintained his positive attitude, and was able to remain home with Lorna until the end, thanks to her constant love and companionship, and the impressive efforts of a professional team of support workers. He deserved no less.
Keith Gillan, may you rest in peace.
Cremation will be taking place, with an informal celebration of life to be arranged at a later date.