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Mr. John "Big John" W. Gillis Obituary


Memories & Candles

“I first met Big John when I was a guest on the morning show with Pidge and Terri. I had mentioned that I wanted to go into broadcasting and he really...Read More »
1 of 45 | Posted by: Renee Larson - New Orleans , LA

“I never had the opportunity to meet John, or listen to his show, but I have met many people who had that opportunity and they spoke very highly of...Read More »
2 of 45 | Posted by: John W Gillis - None

“To the family, I remember Big John well, and was saddened to learn of his passing. We were at IU and he was someone I always liked and looked up to....Read More »
3 of 45 | Posted by: Doug Rafferty - Yarmouth, , ME

“Big John Gillis- Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being you. Thank you for sharing your family with my family. Thank you for your prayers...Read More »
4 of 45 | Posted by: Ken Loudenback - Indianapolis, IN

“We'd like to send our heartfelt sympathy to John's wife and family. ”
5 of 45 | Posted by: David & Ann Guldin - Adrian, MI

“I had the honor to meet Big John just before he took off to the east coast in the 70's. We met over at Stouffers in the Grog Shop, behind IBC/NAP...Read More »
6 of 45 | Posted by: Johnny George - Fishers, IN

“I knew John in high school, through the MYF (church youth group), if you can believe that! Our paths crossed sporadically through the years and I...Read More »
7 of 45 | Posted by: Kate Lehman Walker - IN - Friend

“I had the pleasure of working briefly with John when he returned to Indianapolis after programming our sister station in Boston, WVBF. John returned...Read More »
8 of 45 | Posted by: Steven "Majik Mitchell" Shields - GA

“Big John and I worked together and were friends throughout the heydey of WIBC Radio, when it was at its zenith. He was a major factor in allowing...Read More »
9 of 45 | Posted by: Jerry Baker - Indianapolis, IN

“This is Tom's wife writing to tell you how sorry we are at Big John's passing. Tom had over a 30 year friendship with John and one of his favorite...Read More »
10 of 45 | Posted by: Tom Jena - Indianapolis, IN

“I will always remember Big John for his kindness with people. Always the gentleman & everyman. I had the pleasure of sitting next to John at the...Read More »
11 of 45 | Posted by: Tim Berglund - Indianapolis, IN

“Long, long time listeners of WIBC radio. We were fans of Big John Gillis for years during the time we lived in Indianapolis. -- I know his...Read More »
12 of 45 | Posted by: Sharon Kennedy - Brownsburg, IN

“Long, long time listeners of WIBC radio. We were fans of Big John Gillis for years during the time we lived in Indianapolis. -- I know his...Read More »
13 of 45 | Posted by: Sharon Kennedy - Brownsburg, IN

“I was one of the lucky ones who flew Big John around Indy. I will never enjoy another job more than I did with John. He was such a joy to fly with....Read More »
14 of 45 | Posted by: Dan Love - Indianapolis, IN

“Big John was a great guy. I worked with him off and on through the years creating the first two or three versions of the WIBC.com website for Emmis...Read More »
15 of 45 | Posted by: Derk Gates - Lebanon, IN

“In the late 60's John, DeWayne "Harvey" Yoder, my husband Mike and I were like the four musketerrs. John was working (I use the term loosely) at...Read More »
16 of 45 | Posted by: Mary Newman Norton - Bay City, MI

“I remember all of those years traveling to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, especially on race day and hear Big John's traffic report. It brought...Read More »
17 of 45 | Posted by: Mike Bryant - Salem, IN

“We were lucky enough to meet John through his involvement with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. As the years went on we were even luckier...Read More »
18 of 45 | Posted by: David and Doreen Loyal - IN

“My condolences to "Big John's" family - too soon has he left. What a legend he is in the hearts of those who knew him, and to those who knew "of...Read More »
19 of 45 | Posted by: Jerry Hampton - Noblesville, IN

“I started listening to Big John on WIBC in 1996 when the Army re-assigned me to Fort Harrison. I immediately became a fan and relied upon his...Read More »
20 of 45 | Posted by: Steve Goodroad - Indianapolis, IN

“I knew Big John in the 1960s and had no contact with him after that. But my dad lived in Indiana until early in the 1990s and I still go back...Read More »
21 of 45 | Posted by: Lou Alexander - San Jose, CA

“In past years we shared many happy and funny times together==many stories cannot be told BUT you can bet as he reads this from above there is one...Read More »
22 of 45 | Posted by: Jim Blythe

“Like most felt, I really did think that Big John was my friend. After all, he did get me to work every morning without all of the problems I could...Read More »
23 of 45 | Posted by: Sandi Holstein - Indianapolis, IN

“I spent a lot of time with Big John during my time doing news and traffic on WIBC. Even though I'm not on the air anymore, I'm still in the traffic...Read More »
24 of 45 | Posted by: Kevin Cole - Chicago, IL

“Sincerest condolences to your entire family. Big John and I worked together during his time at the Fairbanks Broadcasting station in Boston (WVBF)...Read More »
25 of 45 | Posted by: Mark Davis - Hartford, CT

“I never had the pleasure of knowing John personally, but I hope to speak for all his fans who "knew" him through radio. He seemed to be a gentle,...Read More »
26 of 45 | Posted by: Linda - Indianapolis, IN - Fan

“Have very fond memories of "Big John" from the Marion Co Sheriff Dept where I am a retired Captain. He loved what he did and loved to help the police...Read More »
27 of 45 | Posted by: Randy Sevenish - Indianapolis, IN

“John and I met back in the early 80's when he was our "eye in the sky" and I worked in dispatch, talking to him every morning on the radio. I was...Read More »
28 of 45 | Posted by: Debbie Oatis - Indianapolis, IN

“I knew John through a personal frienddship with Fred Heckman. We shared a lot of jokes and stories together over the years and collaborated on...Read More »
29 of 45 | Posted by: Bob Gildea - Indianapollis , IN

“After moving to Indianapolis from Chicago, I became a fan of "Big John" via his work on WIBC, especially his traffic reports during the annual...Read More »
30 of 45 | Posted by: Lyman "Sandy" Hintz - IN

“God Speed Big John, may god take care of you in the eternal life. ”
31 of 45 | Posted by: Jeff Woloshin - Indianapolis, IN

“Big John, thank you for your service with the Marion County Sheriff's Department. I remember you very well after all these years. Your voice was...Read More »
32 of 45 | Posted by: Ken Derrett - Cocoa, FL

“John and I met back in the early 80's while I was a Deputy patrolling the north side of the county. One of John's favorite spots was the old Dunkin'...Read More »
33 of 45 | Posted by: Dennis Hammer ~ MCSD 489 - IN

“I met Big John twice at Optimist Club meetings. Each time we had heart to heart talks about our similar health issues, but, also, about life and our...Read More »
34 of 45 | Posted by: Herman Greenwood - Indpls, IN

“I was hired by WNAP in 1972 at the tender age of 19 to play evil rock n roll tunes in stereo. By that time, Big John, legendary for being part of the...Read More »
35 of 45 | Posted by: Michael "Buster Bodine" Hanks - CA

“I am truly sadden at the passing of Big John! In thirty plus years we were friends I never heard him sayn a bad word about anyone. He was always up...Read More »
36 of 45 | Posted by: Tom Dobbins - Carmel, IN - Friend

“I'll always remember John's great sense of humor and his willingness to help others. I asked, and he graciously served as our M.C. at the Federal...Read More »
37 of 45 | Posted by: Steve Beckley - Indianapolis, IN

“John always had a way of making you feel like he had been a friend of yours for years, when you hardly knew him. Who else has that special knack? ...Read More »
38 of 45 | Posted by: Rick Heliste - Bonita Springs, FL

“John had a huge heart. He so cared about helping others. Nothing is more important in life. ”
39 of 45 | Posted by: Ken Beckley - Indianapolis, IN

“I just can’t portray how much John has meant to my family. All of his years of support to all of the public safety programs throughout central...Read More »
40 of 45 | Posted by: David and Julie Parker - IN

“Hi Sally and all of John's family, I remember the time that you were so excited when John was going to do a piece up in his helicopter about World...Read More »
41 of 45 | Posted by: Anne Clark - Bloomington, IN

“I'm so sorry for your loss. Our loss is Heaven's gain. I have a feeling that John and Joe are up in heaven spinning some really good tunes. My...Read More »
42 of 45 | Posted by: Kathleen Halderman - Indianapolis, IN

“I grew up listening to WIBC. This was before Big John, My Mom listened to Easy Gwinn say Good Bye Rabbits, and Bouncin Bill (Baker) Your Early...Read More »
43 of 45 | Posted by: Jeanne HUntzinger - IN - none

“Last time I saw John he was going to be our emcee to dedicate Sheridan's Boxley Cabin in spring 2008...we had met in advance, had lunch and gabbed...Read More »
44 of 45 | Posted by: Brenda Bush - Sheridan, IN - Pal

“Dear Gillis Family, There are few things more difficult than dealing with the loss of a loved one. We, along with our staff, are honored and...Read More »
45 of 45 | Posted by: Brian and Bruce Buchanan - IN


View Video Tribute

John ("Big John") Gillis passed away Friday evening, November 9, 2012, at his home in Broad Ripple. He was born in San Antonio, Texas on September 24, 1947, where his parents owned a riding stable. Around age two he moved with his family to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where his father was stationed with the Air Force. Another military move took the family to Japan for two years, and left John with incredible memories. Upon his father's retirement from the military, the family returned to their origins in Howe, Indiana.

At age sixteen, John got his first Job at a radio station, first sweeping floors and then broadcasting news from the high school he attended in LaGrange. He could see the flashing lights on the station's radio tower from his bedroom window and knew that he wanted to be in broadcasting for the rest of his life. After high school, he attended Indiana University, where he became involved in a student radio station in the basement of his dormitory, known today as WIUX. At age twenty, he left campus life for the real world and WIBC, the powerhouse of Indianapolis Radio. There he remained for the next forty years.

John loved camping with his family, which included four dogs, first in a tent and then in his beloved RV, Ollie. Although they had traveled to forty-eight states, his favorite place to camp was in Indiana state parks.

He had a bottomless passion for people and the community organizations that served their needs. His home office walls were lined with awards and honors for his dedication to the ordinary man.

John is survived by his wife, Sherry, whom he met at a fundraiser; stepson, Hew Simons and wife, Jan; two grandchildren, Kyle and Kayln of Brownsburg; a sister, Sally McGuire and husband, Devin, of Bloomington; and two nephews, Josh and Joey Richards and their families. He will be missed by countless friends, neighbors and fans. A memorial service will be 2:00 Saturday, November 17, 2012 at Flanner and Buchanan – Broad Ripple with a gathering from 11:00 to 2:00 and immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Indiana University Foundation where the family will designate the funds to support telecommunication students and facilities at Indiana University or WIUX Radio Station www.WIUX.org/radio.

You are invited to go to the Guest Book page to pass along your personal message or tell a story.

Sincerely,
-Your friends at Flanner and Buchanan

Funeral Services
Gathering

Flanner and Buchanan - Broad Ripple

1305 E. Broad Ripple Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46220