Oxley-Heard Funeral Home has been serving the community since 1931.
John S. Gillgren

John S. Gillgren

July 28, 1946 - February 13, 2018     Age: 71

John S. Gillgren, 71, passed away on Tuesday, February, 13, 2018 after suffering a massive heart attack a few days earlier.  

John was born in Long Beach, CA on July 28, 1946 to Deane and the late John S. Gillgren.  He graduated in 1964 from Nile C. Kinnick (Yo Hi) in Japan, where he excelled in track and field. John enlisted in the United States Army on March 15, 1966 and served 13 years active duty.  As a member of the 1st and 5th Special Forces, he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant, served two tours in Vietnam and earned the Bronze Star.  John subsequently completed his military service as a Naval Reserve Petty Officer First Class at Joint Base Andrews.

After leaving active duty, he became a communications officer with the U.S. Department of State.  He was posted to the U.S. Embassies in Costa Rica and Zaire.  While in Costa Rica, he met Joyce Wells; they were married on October 6, 1984.  Upon their return to Virginia, John earned his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Education from George Mason University.  In the summer of 1992, John and his family moved to Caracas, Venezuela where he taught Health and Physical Education as Escuela Campo Alegre.  While there, John earned his Master’s of Science in Sociology of Sport and Sports Management from the University of Leicester.  After returning to Virginia in 1995, John was a adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College. He also held various positions with government contracting companies.  He ended his working career as a targeting officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, having spent 16 months in Baghdad.  John and Joyce retired in spring 2012 and relocated to Amelia Island, Florida.  

Over the course of John’s life, he had the opportunity to travel and live all over the world, visiting over 100 countries.  After retirement, John and Joyce enjoyed taking cruises and exploring parts of the world he had yet to visit.  In his spare time, John loved to write.  He published a series of young adult adventure novels that share his love of family, history, diving, and pirates.  He was fascinated with researching and writing several more stories that centered on the Cold War.  John enjoyed spending time at the beach, collecting sea shells and sharks teeth.  He was a huge fan of ice hockey and loved the Washington Capitals.  More than anything, John loved his family and spending as much time as he could with them.  

John is survived by his wife, Joyce Gillgren; his children, Kathlene Crowe, Geoffrey (Tanya) Gillgren, Christine (Frank) Miali, Andrea (Andrew) Wallace, and Kendra Gillgren; his grandchildren Tatyana, Ryan, Nicholas, Stephen, Joshua, Riley, Dominic, and Cael; his mother Deane Gillgren; his brother Thomas (Kim) Gillgren; and many nieces and nephews.  He is preceded by his son Andrew Gillgren, sister Diana Abella, and father John S. Gillgren.  

In lieu in flowers, the family suggests a donation to the American Heart Association or K9s for Warriors.

Visitation and a memorial service will be held on Monday, February 19, 2018 at Oxley-Heard Funeral Home. Visitation begins at 10:00 am immediately followed by the memorial service at 11:00am. 

 Burial with military honors will follow at Bosque Bello Cemetery.  

17 Condolences

  • Cathy Looman Posted February 15, 2018 6:17 pm

    My dearest friend Kendra and family, I am so very sorry for your loss. Please know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers. With much love, Cathy Looman

  • Sandi Crowe Posted February 15, 2018 6:29 pm

    My dear friend Kendra. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Please know I pray God wraps all of you in his loving arms. Please let me know if I can do anything for you.

  • Ashlie Tate Posted February 15, 2018 6:53 pm

    What a beautifully written piece to honor a truly incredible man. He will be so greatly missed! Please know that you have hundreds of people back in Virginia praying for God’s comfort and peace during this time of loss.

  • Steve and Patricia Beaty Posted February 15, 2018 9:21 pm

    Truly a man of honor.

  • Jack Ross Posted February 15, 2018 10:29 pm

    I knew John from high school in Japan. Our graduating class was about 70 students. Everyone called him “Maynard” after Maynard G. Krebbs of the Dobie Gillis TV series. We ran track together and shared many fun times both in and out of the classroom. John was one of the kindest, friendliest people in our class. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing and convey my sympathy to his family and friends. Shine on Maynard!

  • Alice Bauserman Posted February 15, 2018 10:37 pm

    I am praying for your peace and strength during your time of sorrow. Kendra, your dad was a wonderfully talented man and his legacy will live on. God will guide you and your friends are here to walk beside you.

  • Lisa Presnell Posted February 15, 2018 10:47 pm

    He was a wonderful and kind man that I am privileged to have known. I wish you comfort and peace during this difficult time. Much love to you all.

    “He has achieved success who has lived well,
    laughed often and loved much:
    who has enjoyed the trust of pure women,
    the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
    who has filled the niche and accomplished his task;
    who has left the world better than he found it;
    whether by an improved poppy,
    a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
    who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty
    or failed to express it;
    who has always looked for the best in others
    and given the best he had.
    Whose life was an inspiration;
    Whose memory a benediction.”
    Bessie A Stanley, American poet

  • Jean Rummel Posted February 16, 2018 7:31 am

    Love and prayers of condolence to you Joyce and all your family.

  • Randy, Kim Smith & Family Posted February 16, 2018 10:36 am

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family Joyce.

  • Pam Beuerlein Posted February 16, 2018 10:48 pm

    Geoff, Heartfelt sympathy to you and your family for the sudden loss of your father.

  • Cathy Garry Posted February 17, 2018 3:23 pm

    John will be missed by all. He was a caring and gifted man. Blessings to the family.

  • Emily Carmain Posted February 17, 2018 10:20 pm

    I am so saddened to hear that John is gone. I had hoped to see him today at the Book Festival — did not know until tonight. He will be missed by many.

  • Kevin & Merrin Donahue Posted February 18, 2018 8:44 am

    To Joyce and Family – It was such a pleasure to be John’s neighbor for more than five years. Not only was John a wonderful storyteller, he was a kind and generous man who would gladly help with even the smallest jobs. My son and I would marvel at his tales of being overseas and his ideas for stories for his books inspired by his service. Although he didnt have a dog, John would buy treats for our dogs and meet them at the fence for a good head rub and scratch! This became a particularly established routine for our beagle, Oliver, who would greet John with a loud bark whenever he saw him working around the house. I think both of them enjoyed that time! I’ve never been more grateful to John than following the last two hurricanes, when his kind words help lift our spirits as our home was rebuilt. I am so saddened by your loss. I know that John’s personality and charm live on in our memories nd in his wonderful stories. Thank you, John, for your friendship and service. God bless.

  • Hugh and Sue Angert Posted February 18, 2018 12:06 pm

    Though I did not have the privilege of knowing him, his obituary is a beautiful tribute to his life and to others fortunate to know him. Our condolences to Joyce and family in your time of sorrow with your loss. Please let us know if we can be of help in any way in this most difficult time for you, family and friends. Hugh and Sue Angert, 2978 Princess Amelia Court.

  • Sue Chamblin Frederick Posted February 18, 2018 8:25 pm

    Joyce and family, John will be so missed. He was an extraordinary man who loved life and especially his family. Thank you, John, for adding so much to this world.

  • Cathy of The Book Loft Posted March 29, 2018 3:39 pm

    John always had a way of making me smile when he came in to do a book signing. He was so proud of his family and boasted about them all the time. He will truly be missed.

  • Jim Howard Posted May 25, 2019 12:17 pm

    Farewell my friend. I will see you on the other side.

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