Barbara O. Gill, 82: Legislator served community, constituents for nearly 2 decades

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Barbara O’Connell Gill, 82, died Nov. 24 at South Portland Nursing Home.

She was born April 11, 1932, in Portland, to Edith (Dyro) O’Connell and John Anthony O’Connell.

Gill graduated from Cathedral High School in 1948, and attended Pratt Diagnostic School in Boston. She then returned to Maine and worked for Dr. Henry Tabachnik.

She met John Edward “Ted” Gill, of Portland and Cape Elizabeth, at his pharmacy on Danforth Street in Portland. The couple were married June 9, 1951, at St. Louis Catholic Church in Portland. They soon moved to South Portland and made their home in Thornton Heights. In addition to starting their family, they purchased Taylor’s Drug Store in South Portland and later grew the family business into what became Gill’s Pharmacy.

Ted was active in local politics and civic affairs, while Barbara assisted him in operating the store and taking care of their young family. Barbara and Ted were communicants of St. John the Evangelist Church, where they participated in many church activities.

Ted died unexpectedly on July 23, 1972, at the age of 44. Barbara was devastated, but managed to provide for the family and continue his legacy of service. She was elected to the South Portland School Board, serving from 1972 to 1975. In that role, she was proud to award her daughter, Karen, her high school diploma.

In 1974, Gill successfully ran for election to the Maine House of Representatives, representing South Portland for one term. In 1976, she was elected to the state Senate, representing South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. She went on to be re-elected for seven terms, finally retiring in 1992. During her tenure in the Legislature, she served on committees for Health, Institutional Services, Education, Corrections and State and Local Government. She particularly enjoyed working with her constituents to resolve problems.

Gill was employed at Osteopathic Hospital of Maine, Brighton Medical Center and Community Health Services. She retired from this work in 2002.

Proud of her Polish and Irish heritage, Gill is survived by her daughters, Jo Gill Richards and husband, Anthony, of South Portland, and Karen Gill, of Grand Haven, Michigan; sons, John E. Gill and wife, Michelle, of Cape Elizabeth, and Stephen A. Gill and partner, Christine Powell, of Windham; and brother, Jock O’Connell, of Sacramento, California.

Also surviving are grandchildren, Kate Seaver, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Brent Seaver and spouse, Carley, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Rhiannon Gill Guzelian and spouse, Shara, of Mexico Beach, Florida, Patrick Gill and spouse, Aimee Poulin, of Portland, Ted Gill, of Portland, Peter Gill, of Yarmouth, Ian Powell, of Windham, and Nicholas Richards, of Standish; nephew, Robert Gill, of Portland; niece, Althea Gill Lane, of Pennsylvania; and cousins from the Pillsbury, Dyro and O’Connell families.

Gill’s family is grateful to South Portland Nursing Home and its staff, who cared for her since 2008. Additional thanks are extended to Hospice of Southern Maine.

Visiting hours were held Dec. 2 at Conroy-Tully Crawford South Portland Chapel, and a Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Dec. 3 at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, in Scarborough. Private interment will be in Calvary Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the South Portland Nursing Home to be used for ongoing staff development, at 42 Anthoine St., South Portland, ME 04106, or to the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, 383 U.S. Route 1, Suite 2C, Scarborough, ME 04074.

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