Joan Gillis

Obituary of Joan Gillis

Joan (Cunningham) Gillis, 89, passed away peacefully on March 8, 2024 in Halifax. Daughter of the late Reverend Victor Ward and Selena (Read) Cunningham, Joan was born in Ship Harbour, on February 27, 1935. The family moved around the province, living in Petit Rivière, West LaHave, Blue Rocks, and Hubbards, where Joan had especially fond memories of as a young girl. She graduated from Edgehill School for Girls (now Kings-Edgehill) in Windsor, N.S., and went on to attend Victoria General Hospital School of Nursing in Halifax, graduating with the class of 1956. She then ventured to Jersey City to further study obstetrics. Joan returned home to be close to the love of her life, Gordon Gillis, working at the Grace Maternity (now the IWK) and then the old Dawson Memorial Hospital in Bridgewater.

Joan and Gordon married in 1960. They raised their five children in Bridgewater before relocating to Pleasantville where they realized their dream of living at “the carriage house”.

Joan is survived by four children: Tim (Sara) Gillis, of Halifax; Anne Gillis, of Sydney, Australia; Margot (Jim) Hossley, of Coos Bay, Oregon; and Jennifer (Mark) Wazny, of Ontario; and grandchildren Kristina, Alessandra, Nick, Marek and Noah. Joan was predeceased by her husband Gordon in 2011; first-born son Paul in 1971; and brothers Harold, Jack, Bernard, and Conrad.

Joan was very active in her church, Holy Trinity Anglican, where she acted as President of both the Alter Guild and ACW, and Dawson Memorial Hospital, spending many years on the hospital auxiliary including a term as President. Joan was a talented rug hooker and had a passion for antiques. For many years she owned Seacroft Antiques in Dayspring.

Joan was a remarkably kind, sweet, and loving person who always put others before herself. Her beautiful smile lit up a room. She had incredible love and devotion for her family, and will forever be in our hearts.

A private celebration of life will be held a later date. In memory of Joan, donations may be made to Feed Nova Scotia or a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be made at