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Gillis B. Ward

Gillis B. Ward

Gillis Bartholmey Ward, 68, died on July 6, 2017, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

She was born on July 16, 1948, in Seattle, Washington, and was predeceased by her parents, Edmund and Mary Taft Bartholmey, and niece Kelly Brenner.

She is survived by her precious daughter, Alyson, whom she loved with all her heart. Also surviving her are sisters, Carol Graham (Grimsley) and Jane Brenner (Tim) and brothers, Buz Bartholmey and Bob Bartholmey (Kathy) and loving nephews and nieces, Jay Bartholmey (Amber), Billy Bartholmey, Andrew Bartholmey, Jonathon Bartholmey (Shelley), Michael Bartholmey, April Bartholmey, Jennifer Bartholmey, Peter Bartholmey, Timothy Brenner, Liz Rose (Mark), Jeffrey Graham (Reta), Andrew Graham (Donna), and loving great nephews and nieces, Dakota, Layla, and Olivia Bartholmey, Acacia and Azaylia Rose, and Finlay and Ada Graham. Fun-loving Gillis was the classic favorite aunt.

Gillis devoted her lifeís work to the education of deaf and hard of hearing children and their families. She began her career in the early 70ís as a teacher for the Arkansas School for the Deaf. She next worked in deaf education for the Little Rock School District and finished her career in the Early Childhood Development program at the School for the Deaf where she trained educators who worked with parents of deaf or hard of hearing children. As a published trainer, she touched the lives of thousands of families.

Gillis, predictably, also volunteered widely. She was instrumental in growing the Silent Sunday fundraiser for the deaf and hard of hearing, serving as the director of the event for several years. She was a founding volunteer for the Clinton Presidential Library and regularly volunteered for KUAR fund drives and for Stew Pot, the Little Rock organization that feeds the homeless.

With her big heart, gentle soul, and wonderful sense of humor, Gillis drew people to her. She maintained a deep and abiding relationship with a group of friends she had met in her college days at ASU, Jonesboro. She was envied for her circle of friends, who were often at her bedside in the final days.

Gillis loved animals and left behind her beloved dog, Ozzie, so in lieu of flowers, a donation to AR Hands and Voices (PO Box 512, Conway, AR, 72203) or Central Arkansas Rescue Effort for Animals (CARE) would be appreciated.

A memorial service will be held at Ruebel Funeral Home on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 3pm.

Condolence Book

"I worked with Gillis for many years throughput our careers with the State. She was always helpful, friendly and witty, and was devoted to helping the families of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. An avid Democrat and Bill Clinton supporter, I was not surprised when she was one of the first to volunteer at thr Clinton Presidential Center. We also shared a love of animals and volunteered together one Christmas for CARE's Photos With Santa. I know she will be missed by many, including colleagues, families and friends. RIP Gillis. "
Darleen Tripcony | Hot Springs Village, AR

"I met Gillis right after I first moved here to work at the Clinton Library in 2004. She was a good friend, always supportive and caring. She also played a mean game of Words With Friends! We had such hopes she would beat the lousy odds that this awful cancer had given her. She will be missed by all who knew her. "
Kim Coryat | Little Rock, AR

"My heart is heavy at the loss of Gillis, who was a remarkable person. Having met as founding volunteers at the CPC, I liked and respected her, admired the calm way she managed hundreds of children touring the Clinton Library, and exuded such dignity and positive attitude during her cancer journey. She was a role model for all of us."
Phyllis Brents | Sherwood, AR

"My sympathy to the family. So sorry for your loss."
Patsy Pack | North Little Rock, AR

"Gillis was one of our daughter's first teachers and we remained friends for the next forty years. She was a wonderful teacher who challenged our daughter to work hard and told her she could achieve anything she wanted. She was a wonderful asset for parents who didn't have a clue about how best to raise a deaf child. Above all, Gillis was beautiful inside and out. She always wore that welcoming smile and she will be missed!"
Sharon williams | Little Rock, AR

" We met Ms. Gillis when she moved across the road from us in 2004. She watched Logan and Luca grow up into teenagers. Ms. Gillis, you will be greatly missed. Alyson and Buz accept our deepest condolences. also , to the rest of her family and friends. Ms Gillis, you will forever be in our hearts."
Indira Ramhit, David Haymon | Little Rock, AR

"I worked with Gillis for many years in deaf education. She will will be missed"
Laura Richards | White Hall , AR

"My mom was a good friend of Gillis and through that, she became a large part of our family. Both me and my brother could always count on Gillis as a second mother and someone that always sent us good vibes and wanted us to do well.

You need people like Gillis outside of your family that believe in you and want the best for you and wish it to you in an unselfish manner. Gillis was always this type of friend. She shared her opinion, listened to others and always helped both sides understand their differences. Maybe it was her work with the Blind and Deaf that left her with so much patience and kindness.

She will be missed by my mother and our entire family. She is definitely one of the "good guys (gals)" in life and she will be missed- the humor, the kindness, the curiosity and the warm welcomes."

Nicholas Vaughan | Austin, TX

"I collaborated with her for many years as state consultant for children with multiple learning challenging. She was always positive and encouraging to those with whom she worked to improve their quality of lives. I will so miss her energy and smile. "
Lynn Springfield | Little Rock, AR

"Alyson, I am so very sorry for your loss. You & your family are in my thoughts during the difficult time. "
Christie Hooks | Cabot, AR

"Gillis was friendly, out-going, dedicated to her students, smart, and funny. I know that she loved deeply, especially, Alyson and her family. To say I will miss her is an understatement.

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who loved her. She will never be forgotten. "

Sallie Langford | Fayetteville, , AR

"So sorry for your loss. Gillis was a wonderful person. Sorry we can't be there for her service. "
Nancy Siversen | Rogers, AR

"Gillis was a loving and kind lady sharing so much with so many. She will be missed by all of those she touched. Praying for peace and comfort for your family. "
Donna Munnerlyn Bosley | Benton, AR

"Never crossed trails without always feeling better. Carol, we've lost a very good unique person. Prayers are with your family. "
Patrick H. Hays | North Little Rock, AR

"Gillis was a beautiful soul. We must have played 400 games of Words with Friends and she won 398 of them. My heart is with you"
Suzanne Ward | Cuenca, WY

"You will be dearly missed. Your kindness and support to our family can never be fullly repaid. You are a person who truly left the world a better place, and inspired people to always do more. "
Richard and Una Carroll | North Little Rock , AR

"Ms. Ward, as we affectionately, yet respectfully called her, even beyond our elementary years, made a lasting impact on our lives. The words she spoke into my life remain with me to this day and continue to empower me as a deaf person. She will always hold a special place in my heart and in my memories she will live on. <3"
Christy Pettis (Crisel/Runnells) | Little Rock, AR

"My deepest condolences to the family. Gillis was one of a kind and she will be greatly missed. I had the good fortune to have both worked closely with her, and to know her well on a personal level. She was a mentor to me, and I learned so much from her as I tried to emulate her wonderful qualities.

I pray her family finds comfort and peace in this most difficult time. You all are in my heart and mind. "

Nancy Reynolds | Little Rock, AR

"I'm certain she was as great a gal as you Carol..


"Alyson I am so sorry to hear this..I have been trying to get in touch with you. You're Mom was a very special presence in my life growing up that no one else could replace. Her love of life, music, theatre, laughter was a light that gave me strength in an often dark place.. My family and I have you in are hearts and prayers and always will."
John, Jay, Wilma Hensley | Pea Ridge, AR

"My heart broke when I saw the posting about Gillis. I've known her since we were next door neighbors in Bensenville, Illinois. After her family moved to Little Rock in sixth grade, we continued our friendship, only seeing each other a few times during our high school years. In spite of the time and distance, we kept in touch. I thank God I was able to have a quick visit with her three years ago, after oh so many years! Gillis, you were a lifeline to so many people. I shall miss you, my forever friend. "
Georgia Adis Torson | Loveland, CO

"Clinton and I send our love to you all. We were lucky to have met and enjoyed family gatherings with Gillis with our blended families. She had a friendly easy way of being with folks. Always with a smile on her face. May your memories give you comfort during this tough time."
Clinton and Susan schmidt | Fayetteville, AR

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