James Joseph “Joe” Gilligan, Jr.

December 9th, 2013

James Joseph Gilligan, Jr., “Joe”, age 84, a life-long resident of Wilmington, died unexpectedly, December 8, 2013, at home.

Joe was born in Woburn, MA, on August 8, 1929; he was the dear son of the late James J., Sr. and Mary E. (Koschwitz) Gilligan.  He was raised in the Silver Lake section of Wilmington where he made many life-long friends.  Joe was a graduate of Wilmington High School with the class of 1947 and went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Education from St. Anselm College in 1951. He earned his Master’s Degree in Education from Boston University in 1959.

Joe was drafted by the United States Marines on October 22, 1951, having been selected from a gymnasium full of USMC candidates. He served as a Staff Sergeant overseas during the Korean War.  Joe received several commendations including the United Nations Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean Service Medal.  Joe was proud to be a Marine, and was honorably discharged on October 21, 1953 and returned to his family in Wilmington.

Joe married the “love of his life” Patricia A. Tighe on June 25, 1955, sharing more than 58 years together and raising a beautiful family.  Joe was very devoted to his wife and children; they had many great times throughout the years.

Joe went to work as a science teacher for the Wilmington Public Schools in 1954. Joe was not only a teacher and disciplinarian but he was a devoted educator, a mentor, and a friend to countless students.  Joe had a reputation for being “fair”, giving the kids the benefit of the doubt, but always holding his students accountable and molding them into good people.  Joe taught life lessons to students that carried them throughout their adulthood and he was also a favorite among his co-workers.  Joe spent many years as a Vice-Principal of the West Intermediate but first and foremost, he considered himself a teacher.  Joe retired in 1998, following many years of dedicated service to the community.

After his own play of sports in high school and after graduate school, his love of sports continued; baseball, baseball, baseball, as he lived and breathed.  Joe was the Wilmington High School “Wildcats” baseball coach from 1956 – 1971, with more than a few winning seasons. Joe also coached and refereed Wilmington youth hockey; he just loved to watch the kids play sports always rooting them on.

Joe was an avid Red Sox fan, and he also enjoyed watching countless Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox games with his family and friends.  He was also an avid reader in many genres, a history buff, and he enjoyed making up and playing games with his children and grandchildren.

Joe will be notably remembered for his dry sense of humor; he always came out with a good “one liner” and was often looked to for adding humor to any situation.  Joe will be fondly remembered as hardworking, honest, kind, caring, and most of all devoted and loving to his family and a true friend to many.  Joe will be missed not only by his family and friends but by a community that he served so well.

Joe was the beloved husband of Patricia A. (Tighe) Gilligan, devoted father of Kathleen Gilligan and her husband Tom Angelo of Oakland, CA, Theresa D’Arcangelo and her husband Joseph of Reading, MA, Eileen Cantone and her husband David of Plaistow, NH, James D. Gilligan and his companion Gina Johnston of Auburn, NH, Shannon Gilligan of North Andover, MA, and Timothy Gilligan and his wife Karen of Hudson, NH. Joe was the loving “Grampy” of James D’Arcangelo and his wife Patricia, John D’Arcangelo, Dominic, Vincent, and Michael Cantone, Tabitha Gilligan, Patrick, Liam, Bridget, and Declan Gilligan, and great-grandson Anthony Joseph D’Arcangelo.  He was the cherished son of the late James J., Sr. and Mary E. (Koschwitz) Gilligan, and dear brother of Elizabeth Cavanaugh of Londonderry, NH.  Joe is also survived by his brother-in-law, Jay Tighe and his wife Jeanette of Wilmington, as well as sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, and friends.

Family and friends will gather at the Nichols Funeral Home, Inc., 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington, on Thursday, December 12th for Visitation from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon immediately followed by a Funeral Service at 12:00 noon.

In lieu of flowers donations in Joe’s memory may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P. O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS  66675,


19 Entries in Guest Book for “James Joseph “Joe” Gilligan, Jr.”

  1. Larz (Fred) Neilson says:

    Joe was one of my favorite teachers, with such a droll sense of humor. Good teacher, good coach, good guy. I saw him on Oct. 12, had some pleasant words with him, and left him with, I’ll be sure to call you when I have a question.” My deepest sympathies to you.

  2. Warren Leathers says:

    Mr. Gilligan got me interested in chemistry which I took along with me through-out my career. I’ll always remember his dry sense of humor.
    RIP Mr Gilligan … you were a good and fair teacher.

  3. Debbie Kendall DelleDonne says:

    The memories of your Dad will always keep him close to your heart. My deepest sympathies to Kathy and her family.

  4. Cheryl Rooney Varey says:

    Terry my deepest sympathies to your and family on the loss of your Dad. As I have said before he was my favorite teacher in the West had great memories of him and the class. He will be missed, and always remembered.

  5. Anne Flaherty Urtiaga says:

    Dear Gilligan Family. So very sorry for the passing of Mr Gilligan….he was a wonderful teacher & presence to so many of us that walked through the doors of Wilmington High.

  6. Alice Webster Sexton says:

    I enjoyed having your dad as a teacher. He was always fair and, like others, I remember his dry humor. Until now, I realized I never knew his first name. He was always MR Gilligan….always deserving of the respect that he gave others. RIP

  7. Janice Scalley Maciejewicz says:

    I am so happy that you had him for as long as you did. May the memories of your life with him carry you through the coming days and beyond.

  8. Paul White says:

    Mr. Gilligan was one of my favorite teachers. I loved his dry humor. I am glad he lived so long and sad that he is now gone. Rm 109.

  9. The Mullarky Family says:

    Our deepest condolences to the Gilligan family.

  10. ted kinnear says:

    Rest in peace,Mr Gilligan

  11. thomas h. pierce says:

    He was an awesome teacher. As someone previously said he was always Mr. Gilligan. He as there as long as I was from 63 to 68. Sorry to hear he passed but we can celebrate his life for all he gave to us as students. Rm 109 remember it fondly.

  12. Kathleen Bell says:

    The picture is great! You can tell right away that it is him, even after 84 years. My last visit with Mr Gilligan was at my 50th WHS reunion in October. We were blessed to have him there with us. So many got to tell him how important he was in our lives. I got to tell him that I loved him as a teacher and as a person. I am so grateful for that evening.
    My sincere condolences to all he left behind, but you will see him again, he will be waiting at that Gate in Heaven, with that devilish grin!

  13. judith angelo says:

    Beyond the strength and joy they leave their family and friends, great teachers leave a humbling, inspiring, and enduring body of work. I From one teachers’ kid to another, Kathleen, all my love.

  14. Leisa Park says:

    Mr Gilligan was my favorite teacher at the west. He was a nice man. May he rest in peace

  15. lisa kennedy-cox says:

    my deepest condolences terry and family…I remember your dad and how funny he was and a great person. I met mrs. burns at yoga class who had described your father as ‘one of the funniest people on the planet.’ you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  16. Ken Liston says:

    Terri, I was saddened to hear of your father’s passing. My first thought was of something that I was required to memorize in college, when I pledged my Fraternity. It goes:
    “The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.”
    Terri, I hope that you and your family will find comfort in knowing that generations of Wilmington people remember your Dad as a True Gentleman.

  17. John Lippiello says:

    I enjoyed having Mr Gilligan for 8th grade science at the West. He was a great teacher and knew how to handle the students. He left an impression on me. My sympathies to you, and may he rest in peace.

  18. Bea (Weatherbee)Randell says:

    Sorry to hear of Joe’s passing. Many fond memories of the years
    in the “old” highschool.
    My condolences to Pat

  19. Bridget says:

    I love you Grampy.

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