Farley-Estes & Dowdle Funeral Home
105 Capital Ave NE
Battle Creek, MI 49017
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Elizabeth Gillis

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Elizabeth Gillis Obituary
Elizabeth Seton Gillis

Battle Creek

Elizabeth 'Liz' Gillis, 51, of Battle Creek, Michigan, died, Saturday, May 23, 2015 following a long battle with cancer.  Liz was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan on November 12, 1963, the daughter of Angus Francis Gillis and Mary Josephine (Beaton) Gillis.

Raised in Detroit and Harper Woods, Liz attended Michigan State University as an Evans Scholar, studying crop and soil sciences and agricultural engineering.  After graduation, Liz joined the Peace Corps and was stationed in Niger, West Africa.  There she built cement drinking water wells, introduced more resilient crops and livestock, and developed a deep and lasting respect for Africa and its people.

Liz returned home to join The Kellogg Company where she worked for 22 years in the W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research as an engineer and later as an executive. Liz was resolute about hiring and developing the best talent.  Though Liz worked in R&D, she was a favorite among the Kellogg HR community for giving graciously of her time to on-board and mentor new employees and women in the sciences.

Liz was an avid reader with an active imagination, soaring creativity and innate story-telling abilities. She loved learning about our world through National Geographic, but also enjoyed exploring other worlds through Fantasy and Science Fiction literature. She re-wrote the endings to books that disappointed her and endlessly entertained family and friends with stories from her keen observations, many travels and the books and movies that she had enjoyed.  When she was young, a librarian challenged Liz to live her life as though it were the sequel to her favorite tale of adventure - *The Three Musketeers*.  This she did, from her high school job as a female golf caddy, many treks across the U.S., Europe and Africa, and her indulgence in a wide range of hobbies from needlework to learning the bagpipes.

Liz had a joyful and generous spirit that expressed itself in song and deed.   She was a soprano with the Battle Creek Community Chorus, where she loved to design and build the group's sets as much as be part of the performance.   She enjoyed cooking for others, often hosting guests at her home.  So great were her skills, that she once hosted an office Christmas party from her hotel room cooking the entire affair in a toaster oven.  She was a generous supporter of the Evans Scholars Foundation, St. Philip Catholic Church and the Diocese of Kalamazoo where she was a member of The Bishop's Circle and served on the Diocesan Development Advisory Board. Her philanthropies were likely to be distributed anywhere she saw a need; a high school senior needing funds for a pilgrimage to Rome or stray animals in need of a home.

Liz had a loving relationship with her family.  She especially enjoyed playing the "cool aunt" to her nieces and nephew.  She took the kids to interesting places and showered them with thoughtful and unique gifts and experiences.  She remained close to her nephew in California by playing online games with him and his friends. She saw just how far out-on-a-limb she would go for her nephew when she found herself shark cage diving among the Great Whites off the coast of South Africa. (Liz was less afraid of the sharks than of the prospect of getting into that wetsuit!) Liz traveled with her niece to Vancouver, British Columbia to attend a week-long Supernatural fan convention because they were both avid fans of the long-running TV series. Liz arranged the VIP passes to get backstage and meet the cast. Trips to Disney World were "no holds barred" shopping excursions for princess dresses.

Liz is survived by her mother Mary Josephine of Battle Creek, Michigan; her sisters Anne (Thomas) Furlong of Saratoga, California and Margaret (Vittorio) Bruni of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan; and her nephew, Alec Furlong, and nieces, Josephine and Meredith Bruni.  Her father, Angus, greeted her in heaven. He was busy oiling the pearly gates as she arrived.

The family will receive friends from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Friday, May 29, 2015 and from 10:00 am to 10:45 am on Saturday, May 30th at the Farley Estes & Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care, 105 Capital Ave, NE, Battle Creek, MI 49017.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 11:00 am at St. Philip Roman Catholic Church, 112 Capital Avenue, NE, Battle Creek, MI 49017.

Later this summer, Liz will be laid to rest next to her father on the Isle of Cape Breton in the cemetery of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, West Lake Ainslie, Nova Scotia, Canada.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Evan Scholars Foundation, One Briar Road, Golf, IL 60029.

Personal messages for the family and/or favorite memories of Liz may be placed at www.farleyestesdowdle.com

Published in Battle Creek Enquirer from May 27 to May 28, 2015
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