All 11 children present for mother’s 100th birthday

Published 6:00 am Friday, March 10, 2006

STURGIS – Dorothy Gillis recently celebrated her 100th birthdaywith 170 family members and friends.

She was born on Feb. 15, 1906.

Among those present were all of her 11 children, whose agesrange from 59 to 84. She has one set of twins.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

After a survey was made, it was discovered that Gillis was theoldest person at the celebration, and her great-great-grandson,four-month-old Tate Holmes was the youngest.

She married in 1921 at age 14 to Chapman Gillis, who died in1981. They were married for 60 years.

Dorothy Gillis was a homemaker and worked from her home as aseamstress. She also made most of her children’s clothing.

Oftentimes she did the sewing for others free of charge whentimes were hard and money was short, never turning anyone awaybecause of their inability to pay.

Occasionally people would pay her with whatever they had togive, such as garden produce that they had raised. Oftentimes, whenscraps of fabric would remain that were too small to use forclothing, she would save them to make quilts, never letting any ofthe fabric go to waste.

Before she retired from sewing, she made a quilt for each of her11 children.

The Gillis home was a happy one, and it was the place where allthe children in the area gathered to play, according to daughter,Kathleen Holmes, of Brookhaven.

“There were good times and bad — mostly good — and everyonewas always anxious for a taste of Mama’s blackberry cobbler,”Holmes said.

Gillis is still living in her own home. She is fiercelyindependent and prefers to still take care of her family, ratherthan have them take care of her.

She enjoys talking on the phone to her family members, and has adaily phone conversation with her 97-year-old sister, EuniceMalone, who lives nearby. She takes pleasure in reading and workingfind-a-word puzzles. She also enjoys watching television,particularly the old sitcoms like “The Andy Griffith Show,” soapoperas and game shows.

The family is a tightly-knit one, and they all get together asoften as they are able. They recently put together a familycookbook, full of old and new recipes. It was a labor of love,reflection and respect for their shared history.

Gillis has two grandsons who are Brookhaven residents, Steve andMike Holmes and their families. One granddaughter, Lacey HolmesLaird, of North Carolina, shares her great-grandmother’sbirthday.