Leslie R. Gillies passed away peacefully at home from a brain tumor on March 13, 2022 surrounded by his loving family and friends. Les was a beloved hard working family man with a generous humble heart and a strong belief in God. He was a great provider for his family and an inspiration to those that knew him.
Les was born on November 10, 1943 in South Dakota to Albert and Bessie Gillies and was the youngest of five children. They all lived behind the bar in Kranzburg that Albert and Bessie owned but when the bar burned down the family had to move out to the old Army barracks at that airport on the outskirts of Watertown. This is where the seed was planted for Les’ love of aviation. Les began working at a very young age and by 14 his career in the sign business had already begun when he got a job painting signs for the local grocery store and hand lettering graphics on trucks.
In 1963 Les followed his high school sweetheart Marlys Schaefer out to California where the two were married and started a life together. Les got a job working in the sign shop of the department store White Front and quickly moved up the latter to management but in 1966 his career was put on hold when he was drafted by the military and served two years stationed in Germany. It was here that Les and Marlys began their lifelong love of travel which would take them on many adventures all over the world.
In 1974 White Front went out of business so Les decided to start his own sign shop in Buena Park California. Based on relationships developed in his early days at White Front his new business grew and prospered. In 1994 Les and Marlys relocated to Southern Orange County and in 2009 his two sons Toby and Chad joined the family business.
Those who knew Les know he loved to fly. He owned four different airplanes in the 25 years that he had his pilot’s license and enjoyed every minute of his adventures. Les had a dry sense of humor and delighted those around him with a funny comment or two but when it came to flying, he was all business.
Les was very proud of his two sons Toby and Chad. His eldest son Toby and his wife Maudi have two darling daughters Marlys and Margie who brought Les much happiness. He enjoyed watching the girls learn the cello and delighted in giving them rides around Dana Point Harbor in his boat. Chad, his wife Marianna, and their son Kai were very loved by Les. He enjoyed watching his grandson Kai play basketball and rarely missed a game. He was so proud that Kai will be starting college in the fall.
Les and his wife Marlys are devout Christians and are very active in the Capistrano Beach Church in Capistrano Beach, California. He felt blessed to be part of his church community.
In honor of Les, a Celebration of Life service will be held on April 30th at 2:00 p.m. at Capistrano Beach Church located at 25975 Domingo Avenue, Capistrano Beach, California 92624. All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to American Cancer Society.
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