Thomas Gilles
1926 - 2020
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Thomas Gilles

Fond du Lac - Thomas Edward Gilles, 93, a resident of Fond du Lac, passed away April 11, 2020 at the St. Francis Home, Fond du Lac. He was born in Milwaukee on June 28, 1926 to Christian and Cecelia (Walloch) Gilles.

Tom grew up in Wauwatosa. He began working for his brother, Paul, at Gilles Frozen Custard in Milwaukee in 1938 at the age of 12. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946.

In 1949, Tom moved to Fond du Lac to follow his dream of owning his own business and founded Gilles Frozen Custard Drive-In. On February 18, 1950, he married Doris Marie Curler in Milwaukee, WI. Together Tom and Doris built Gilles Frozen Custard Drive-In into one of Fond du Lac's iconic destinations.

Tom retired in 1992 and his son, Jim, continued operating the family business. In Tom's retirement, he learned a new hobby and carved wood into beautiful pieces of art, including a 15-foot totem pole. Tom enjoyed golf and being outdoors - especially when he was at his cottage. Above all else, Tom loved being with his family and spending time with them.

Although many will remember Tom for his frozen custard, his children will be forever grateful for the strong work ethic and unwavering faith he instilled within them.

Survivors include: two sons, John (Jan) Gilles of Green Bay, Jim (Gwen) Gilles; three daughters, Mary (Greg) Guenther, Joanne (Bill) Theyerl and Christine (Chris) Holmes all of Fond du Lac; five grandchildren, Angie (Aaron) Roden, Ryan (Katie) Gilles, Molly Gilles, Nicholas and Jacob Holmes; two step-grandchildren, Julie (Aaron) Bray and Tyler Theyerl; five great-grandchildren, Henry and George Gilles, Olivia, Abigail and Eli Roden. He is further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Doris, a brother Paul (Faye) Gilles; two sisters, Mary (Roy) Coldagelli and Margaret (Bob) Marion and his parents.

Memorials in his name may be directed to the Jesuit Retreat House, 4850 Fahrnwald Road, Oshkosh, WI 54902, St. Mary's Springs Academy or a charity of your choice.

Private family services are scheduled. The family is planning a Celebration of Tom's life at a future date.

"The family extends their deep appreciation to the staff of St. Francis Terrace and Home for their compassionate care."

Online condolences can be shared at

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Published in Fond du Lac Reporter from Apr. 13 to Apr. 15, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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Memories & Condolences
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11 entries
April 16, 2020
Here's to the man who for all of those decades, truly brought our own "American Graffiti" to our town.

Thanks Tom,
God Bless
Chic Wagner
April 15, 2020
My Dad Ed Koch was a very good friend to Paul and Tom. My mom was a carhop at Paul Gilles and at 101 is still eating sundaes from Gilles. We visited Toms place last summer and were taken back to all those great memories from the past. My condolences to the family but how wonderful your memories must be. I know mine of Paul and Tom are wonderful. Bless you
Gail Mickelson
April 14, 2020
Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding, deal graciously with members of the Gilles family in their grief. Surround them with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Rev. Michael and Debra Hackbarth
April 14, 2020
Tom always had a smile on his face and a great joke that would make us laugh. Great man!
Tim & Catherine Abler
April 14, 2020
Dad's last carving!
April 14, 2020
Dad's last carving!
April 13, 2020
Oh Tommy Boy, we shared some good times, laughs,and wonderful stories together this past year. It was a Great honor to be able to care for you. I have a special place in my heart for you always. Your hugs are the best and I will miss them dearly. To the Gille Family, you have my deepest sympathy, Hugs to you all.
Pam Swanson
April 13, 2020
Truly a member of the "greatest generation". He loved God, his country, and his extended family.
It was a honor to have been his friend.

Roger Korinek
April 13, 2020
To all the Gilles family.... We are sad to hear of your father's passing! He was truly an amazing man and we enjoyed having him for a neighbor when he lived out here at lake Deneveu! May he rest in peace! You are all in our thoughts and prayers! May you find some comfort in knowing he is reunited with your mom! God bless!
Judy and Steve Plautz (Bobby Georg's daughter)
April 13, 2020
To the Gilles Family,
Your father and grandfather brought so much joy to the community of Fond du Lac! Not just the iconic drive in, and all the young people it provided employment for, but also in his strong church, and city leadership. His life touched so many.
With grateful thanks to a true gentle man,
Judith Berger O'Brien
Judith Berger OBrien
April 13, 2020
For the entire Gilles family~Our family sends our thoughts and prayers for peace during this time. We want to thank Thomas, his lovely wife and the family for working tirelessly, to bring so much joy to Fond du Lac through Gilles Frozen Custard. (while we know you are so much more than GFC) we also know what a passion, and how much blood, sweat and tears go into building and maintaining a business like that, and everyone should be very proud of what was accomplished. Through living in the home that Thomas built, for the past twenty years, our family has enjoyed the quality that the Gilles' insisted upon, and we have thought of your folks and family often while our family grew, surrounded by the walls that your father established. Blessings to you all and God Bless your Dad. David and Heather Linstrom
Heather Linstrom
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