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Obituary of John F. Gilligan, Ph.D

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GROVELAND - Dr. John F. Gilligan “Jack”, 85, of Groveland, passed away surrounded by his family on December 15, 2023, at 3:00 P.M. He married his beloved soulmate, Diana Jean, 

45 years prior - to the exact minute - in the home they built together. She preceded him in death. She met him at heaven’s gates, and they celebrated their anniversary together once again. 

He was born on August 2, 1938, in Gloucester, Massachusetts to John and Eve Gilligan, who preceded him in death. His favorite pastimes were devouring books (one pen and highlighter at a time), writing, running, spending time with family, speaking Italian with his grandson, and traveling. 

He leaves behind a very proud family who will miss him immeasurably; his daughter Debbie “The Muffin” (Steve) Martin of Morton, three grandchildren: Michael Baugh, Connor James Martin, and Megan Martin “The Little Muffin”, his beloved and most dear Aunt Kate (Ted) Langs, two nephews, Michael (Kim) Langs and Ted (Lois) Langs. 

He leaves us with so much to remember, and somehow made even the most mundane activities fun. An activity as simple as putting your shoes on in the morning could bring a smile to your face when he was around. You might find peanut shells or crumpled up paper towels in the soles of your shoes, or post-it notes with sweet messages scattered all around the home.  In addition, he was always helping his family with life advice. ‘Never let your education interfere with your learning.” “Your first wealth is health.” “Know yourself.”  “Stick with me, kid. You’ll go places.” “There’s more horse’s asses in the world than there are horse’s heads.” and finally, “You’re always safe with Grandpa.”

Jack had a way of connecting with people. Whether it was the first time you had met him, or you’d known him for years, you loved the man. He made you feel seen, heard, and valued. Jack always remembered the little things, the important things. You could count on him. You could go to him for anything and everything, and trust that he would not let you down. This was a quality that made him shine brighter than most, and that brightness could light up any room or any life he walked into.

Although Jack’s professional accomplishments were many, and his knowledge was vast, nothing can compare to the love he gave to his family and friends. To be loved by Jack was a true blessing. He was one in a billion, perhaps one in a trillion. He never had an ill word, his patience never ran thin, and he could always make people laugh. Instead of seeing people’s faults, he was happy to have them in his life. In reality, we were happier to have him in ours. He will never be forgotten.

Dr. Gilligan was a true renaissance man, a seeker of knowledge and truth, a man of conviction and virtue, a community builder, and a lifelong learner. His pedigree extends across the United States and throughout Europe, earning degrees and certifications at Stonehill College, University of Anger, France, Fairfield University, University of Idaho, and University of Illinois School of Medicine, Chicago. Along with Dr. Gilligan’s degrees, he completed advanced studies at the University of Paris, Gregorian University, Rome, University of Maine, and University of Wisconsin. 

Dr. Gilligan began his professional career as an Assistant Professor and Associate Director at the University of Idaho. Later, he became the Chief Clinical Psychologist and Director of Clinical Services at Tazwood Center for Human Services in Pekin, Illinois. In 1979, Dr. Gilligan became Executive Director of the Human Service Center, in Peoria, Illinois. This role was one he served in until 1987, when Dr. Gilligan became the President and Chief Executive Officer of Fayette Companies and its seven subsidiaries until his retirement in 2004. He returned to the role for a brief period in 2013 again until his second and final retirement in 2014.

Dr. Gilligan was a licensed clinical psychologist and developed a combination of non-for-profit and for-profit enterprises.  In addition, he was a founding member and past vice-chairman of the Leadership Development Center. Dr. Gilligan provided managerial training and consultation to managers representing more than 200 of the Fortune 500 corporations. 

Dr. Gilligan remained dedicated to serving those in Central Illinois afflicted with mental health illness and drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to his work at Fayette, his private clinical practice allowed him to maintain a connection to his true passion- helping people, one person at a time. 

Dr. Gilligan was a board member and Vice President of the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas. He was appointed by two Governors of the State of Illinois to the Illinois State Advisory Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependency and was chairman of its Prevention Committee. Along with these accomplishments, he was chairman to numerous local boards. 

He is the author of The Soul of America: Essays on the Fourth of July; The Library of Congress: An Embodiment of the American Identity co-authored with Congressman Ray LaHood; The Adversity Challenge co-authored with Charles Stoner. His most recent publication was The American Revolution 1607-1801: A Cultural History for Teachers, Parents, and Children.

In addition to published professional research articles and presentations, more than 200 of his editorials, essays and comments have appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Gilligan received countless awards,  recognitions, and proclamations throughout his life. He was recognized locally, nationally, and globally. 

Through Fayette Companies, Dr. Gilligan created the John F. Gilligan Community-Based Psychiatry Fund, which is currently managed by The Community Foundation of Central Illinois. It was Dr. Gilligan’s dream to utilize the funds his company generated to improve the lives of those in Central Illinois by “creating a national model that dramatically changes behavioral health care.” 

A visitation will be held Wednesday, December 20th from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home in Morton, Illinois. Further visitation will be held on Thursday, December 21st from 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Church, in Morton, Illinois, with funeral services to follow at 10:00 a.m.. A Celebration of Life luncheon is scheduled to take place after the funeral services at the Creve Coeur Club in Peoria, Illinois. 

Donations in Dr. Gilligan’s honor may be addressed to the Congregation of the Holy Cross at the website www.holycrossusa.org/support-our-work or to Blessed Sacrament School at the website www.bscmorton.org/giving.

Digital condolences may be sent via email to john@johnfgilligan.com. Dr. Gilligan’s family remains committed to his dedication to scholarly work. Dr. Gilligan left behind a great fortune of written work, and they intend to continue the publication of his exceptional writing. To explore Dr. Gilligan’s writings, or to be added to the mailing list to receive new releases of his publications, please visit www.johnfgilligan.com/memorial.  

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