July 16, 1929 - July 30, 2018
Born in Detroit, Michigan
Resided in St. Clair Shores, Michigan
Raising her big and growing family was a central focus of Reg’s life. Reg and Jim had six children, James (Catherine), Regina, Mary, Susan (Andrew), Michael (Susan) and Brian (Carolyn), and 13 very talented grandchildren: Brendan (Katie), Meghan, Caitlin (Joey), Rory (Sasha), Dillon (Rachel), Brigh, Kearney, Brian Patrick, Steven, Margaret, Caroline Grace, Graham and Garrett. Reg also had a great grandson, Benjamin, to whom she declared herself the “extra-Grandma.”
Reg and Jim traveled their journey in parenthood together with Jim’s sister, Elizabeth Sheppard as she raised her seven children after Shep’s death in 1970. Betty and Shep’s children, who have become terrific adults and were a central part of Reg’s life, are William (Polly), John, Dan (Hyunhee), Michael (Jana), Steven (Lori), Elizabeth and Kathleen. Reg was also “Grandma Reg” to their children, Joe, Tori, Caroline, Maggie, Clare, Chaewoo, Molly, Ellie, Sophie and Michael. And she was sister-in-law to Rhea Butler Krolikiewicz (Max) who lived in Germany for many years with her children, Deborah, Kimberly, Richard and Mark.
Reg was the oldest of seven children of Kathleen Burnett Gilleran and George T. Gilleran, including her sister and friend Helen Roach (Ken), Jerry (Barbara), James (Anne), Paul (Carole), Sister Mary Francis, IHM; and Thomas (Judy). In total, Reg has 29 nieces and nephews most of whom she knew well as they grew up in this close family. The Gillerans warmly welcomed all the Butler family cousins into their big Irish family. Reg was delighted that her children and many of the cousins and their children became friends, classmates, teammates, coworkers, and sometimes roommates.
Reg will be remembered for bringing joy and laughter in almost everything she did. She was a strong and caring woman with beautiful blue eyes and a generous spirit. As a student in high school and college, she was active in theatre, and later in fund raising for her alma mater Dominican High. Throughout her life, she maintained her close friendships with a group of her classmates, and she was a skillful seamstress who gave generously of her time and talents. She also enjoyed working in her garden. As a partner to her entrepreneurial husband, Reg was famously frugal in engineering the household budget to afford, among other luxuries, many years of private school tuition for her brood. Although often seasick, she heartily embraced the family sport of sailing and served as shore crew for the family sailboat racing team. Her sailing career was filled with fun, and some serious errors we all laugh about now. But as she often retorted about her sailing -- and her cooking-- everyone survived. Among her greatest escapades, with her partner-in-in fun, Betty, were hastily arranged “educational trips” after boating accidents and babysitting for the grandchildren in Washington, D.C. for two weeks each year for over 24 years, long after they should have been left in charge.
Our family is very grateful to her dedicated caregivers who helped our Mom, Aunt and Grandmother make the most of the last few years living independently in her own home as she wished. We are all also grateful for Gina’s loving care and her informed advocacy for Reg’s health care which extended her life well-beyond what would otherwise have been possible.
Please join us to celebrate her life at a memorial service at A. H. Peters Funeral Home on Sunday, August 5, 2018 at 7pm (viewing from 4 - 9pm), 20705 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods, and mass at St. Matthew Catholic Church on Monday, August 6, 2018 at 10am at 6021 Whittier, Detroit. In recognition of the high priority Reg and Jim placed on education for their family, we suggest that anyone interested in making a donation in her honor contribute to the Mary Francis Gilleran, IHM Scholarship Fund at Detroit Cristo Rey High School, 5679 West Vernor Hwy, Detroit 48209.
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Grosse Pointe Woods, MI US 48236
Detroit, MI US