Kathleen Gillis Mantz (93) went home to be with the Lord on December 30, 2022. She passed peacefully, surrounded by her loving family and her beloved caregiver, Nancy Loloma.
Kathleen Janelle Gillis was born at home in Biloxi, Mississippi on July 13, 1929 to Crate “G” and Margaret Nesossis Gillis. She was their first child, followed by twin sisters who died in infancy, and brother, Charles A. Gillis. Her parents built a house on the Tchoutacabouffa River and named it Char-Leen Lodge. It became the center of many happy family events.
Kathleen grew up to be a charming, refined lady who spoke with a Southern lilt. She had very feminine sensibilities, and pink was her favorite color. She was a Southern belle who wore many a corsage and had a full dance card. Throughout her life she had an abiding connection to her roots.
She graduated from Gulf Park Junior College and attended Mississippi Southern and majored in home economics. She used and enjoyed her homemaking skills her whole life. At a college mixer with budding Naval Aviators, she met the love of her life, Roy T. Mantz. She thought he looked like the actor Alan Ladd and he thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world. They had a “meet-cute” romantic comedy exchange in their first conversation. Kathleen had relatives in California and Roy was from California so they began chatting about that and Roy kept asking her more details about where her relatives lived, and saying that he lived in that area too, in fact right next door. Kathleen thought he was just stringing her along, until he’d provided the names of their kids and dog! After that proof, she thought he must be on the up and up, and their whirlwind romance began in earnest.
Roy and Kathleen married on April 1, 1950 and immediately moved to Coronado for his first assignment. They set up housekeeping in a small apartment behind the Mexican Village restaurant. Over the course of Roy’s Naval career they moved about every 18 months, and lived in Pensacola, Washington State, Kansas, Carmel, Washington, D.C., Japan, and Coronado several times. They built their house on Cabrillo Avenue in 1955 and it’s been home base, the site of many wonderful Fourth of July family gatherings ever since.
In true Navy wife fashion, she manned the home front and raised three boys who all became Eagle Scouts, while coping with many deployments. She loved caring for her home and being hospitable. Kathleen read cookbooks like most of us read novels, cover to cover. She loved trying new recipes, and whatever she served for dinner was sure to be delicious, nutritious, and beautifully presented. She loved gardening and arranging flowers, and took joy in being a long-time member of the Bridge and Bay Garden Club. She enjoyed sewing and took many classes in various crafts.
After raising her boys, she heartily welcomed her daughters-in-law, sharing recipes, crafting ideas, and fun times with all of them.
Kathleen spent many years volunteering at the Graham Memorial Thrift Cottage. Grandchildren remember getting to go there with her to buy small treasures. She also served in the Pink Ladies at Coronado Hospital. She loved her ladies’ circle at church and will be missed. Kathleen was a prolific correspondent and never forgot a friend or family occasion.
About three years ago, Kathleen became unable to stand or walk. Confined to a wheelchair, she couldn’t travel anymore and required assistance in the house. Her caregiver, Nancy, took excellent, loving care of her and became one of her best friends. Nancy would push Kathleen in her chair on long walks in the sun. They laughed and worked puzzles together every day. What a blessing Nancy has been to the whole family.
April 1, 2022 was Roy and Kathleen’s 72nd anniversary. Their granddaughter Betsy got married to her husband Jon Philbin on the Mantzes front steps on that special date. It was a wonderful family celebration that Kathleen thoroughly savored.
Kathleen is survived by her loving husband, Roy; her sons, Mike (Sarah), Jeff (Sue), and Greg (Jill); her beloved brother, Charles; her grandchildren, Jenica Richwine, Katelyn Rogers (Brett), Nick Mantz, Katie Mantz, Betsy Philbin (Jon), Sam Mantz, and Eliza Mantz; great-grandchildren, Corbin and Griffin Richwine, Nolan and Tenley Rogers. Kathleen was also very close to her step-grandsons and their families: Morgan Gutenkunst (Shelby) and daughter Willamene; Myles Gutenkunst (Kristin) and children Ethan and Elliot.
Per Kathleen’s wishes, there will be a private family remembrance in lieu of a formal service.
VOL. 113, NO. 15 - April 12, 2023
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