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, www.woundedwarriorproject.org.