Deacon Dennis J. Gillan dies; served Spring Valley parish, as well as Cursillo and TEC

Deacon Dennis Gillan

AMBOY — A Mass of Christian Burial is planned for Saturday, July 29, for Deacon Dennis J. Gillan at St. Anthony Church of The Nativity of Our Lord Parish, 510 Richard A. Mautino Drive, in Spring Valley. Father Scott Potthoff, pastor, will be the celebrant for the 10 a.m. liturgy.

Burial will follow in the Ladd Cemetery.

Visitation will be Friday, July 28, from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 to 9:45 a.m., both at the church.

Deacon Dennis died July 21, 2023, at his home in Amboy. He was 62.

In the parish bulletin for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Father Potthoff remembered the deacon as “a kind, hard-working, faith-filled man, husband, father, grandfather and servant of God and his church.”

“We are grateful to God for his presence and for the ministry that Deacon Dennis lived among us,” Father Potthoff said.


Born in Spring Valley on April 8, 1961, Deacon Dennis attended Cherry Grade School and Hall High School in Spring Valley. He married Nanette Hasselman on Feb. 2, 1980, and together they farmed in the Arlington area and started an excavating business, AWSS Inc., where he worked as a Local 150 operating engineer.

The Gillans bought Green River Oaks Camping Resort in Amboy in 2013 and continued to build it up even after selling AWSS Inc. in 2021.

Among the ways Deacon Dennis gave back to the community was through the Local 150 Operating Engineers, Laborers Union Local 393, Cherry Grade School board of education, Bureau County Farm Bureau, Cherry Fire Department, Arlington Fire Department, Holy Trinity Church (Cherry) CCD program, and the Knights of Columbus, where he was a Fourth Degree Knight.

Deacon Dennis was one of 28 men ordained to the permanent diaconate by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria on May 19, 2012. His assigned parish was St. Anthony of Padua (now The Nativity of Our Lord) in Spring Valley, and over the years he was assistant spiritual director of Peterstown Teens Encounter Christ and Illinois Valley Cursillo.

For three years, he also ministered as a deacon at St. Faustina Church in Clermont, Florida.

In addition to Nanette, Deacon Dennis is survived by their seven children, Jeff (Liza) Gillan of Spring Valley; Jessica (Dale) Carls of Ladd; Rebecca (Brad) Debnar of Plainfield; Neil (Meggie) Gillan of Arlington; Jasmine Gillan of Amboy; Andrew Gillan of Arlington and Joe (Stephanie) Thompson of Plainfield; 12 grandchildren; a brother, Greg (Sally) Gillan of Peru; nephew Gus Gillan; and godchild Devin Soldati.

The Gillans also were foster parents to more than 20 children in the span of eight years.

Memorials may be directed to the family for a scholarship fund in Deacon Dennis’ name. Offerings for Masses in his name may be sent to St. Patrick Church in Amboy; St. Joseph Church in Peru; or St. Faustina Church in Clermont, Florida.

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