On Sunday, January 22nd, Jean Barbara Gilson (nee Wirth), of Red Bank, passed away at her home in Shadow Lake Village at the age of 87. Known affectionately as “Big Jean” by those who loved and best knew her, she was a loving wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. Jean was born on April 14, 1935 to William and Frieda (Lau) Wirth. A Jersey City native, Jean married Donald F. Gilson in 1955 and eventually relocated her family to North Arlington.
After moving to North Arlington, Jean was a parishioner of Our Lady Queen of Peace and sent all seven of her children to Queen of Peace Grammar School and High School where she was a PTA mom and cheerleader to her children’s many sporting events. Jean was a member and past-president of the Kearny Elks. Jean was an avid New York Giants fan, and loved Jimmy Buffet and Frank Sinatra. Jean moved to Monmouth County after all of her children moved on and out. Big Jean, with her personalized license plates, loved to cruise Red Bank in search of the perfect “Happy Hour”. She enjoyed spending time with family and friends most especially down the shore including her beloved Long Beach Island.
Jean was predeceased by her husband, Donald F, her son-in-law, Richard Leister, and her older brother, William. Jean is survived by her seven children and their spouses; Donald & Aggie, Kathleen & Paul St. Germain, Michael & Kathleen, Thomas, Patricia Leister, Carol & Richard Guido, and Jeanne & Joseph O’Connor. She is also survived by her 17 grandchildren; Kelly Fisher (David), Kristen Anderson (Michael), Megan Lyttle (Michael), Matthew St. Germain (Elise), Ryan Rieder (Steven), Tara Cornell (Colin), Michael Dennis Gilson Jr., Conor Leister (Lauren), Sean Leister (Barbara), Richard Leister, Kieran Leister, Riley O’Connor, Shea O’Connor, Owen Guido, Luke Guido, Cole Guido, and Kaleigh Guido. Big Jean’s 10 great-grandchildren include Taylor & Harper Anderson, Haleigh, Austin, & Gavin Lyttle, Steven & Kate Rieder, McKenna & Hayden St. Germain, and Chase Cornell~ with two more due in 2023. Jean also leaves behind her devoted caregiver of 5 years, Oksana Korolova.
In the words of Frank Sinatra: “I've lived a life that's full, I traveled each and every highway, and more, much more than this, I did it my way.” Big Jean did it her way, and she really lived a wonderful life.
There will be a visitation on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 from 4-8 PM at the John E. Day Funeral Home 85 Riverside Ave. Red Bank, N.J. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 9:45 AM at the Queen of Peace R.C. Church in N. Arlington, N.J. Interment will immediately follow at Holy Cross Cemetery in N. Arlington, N.J.
Please visit Jean’s memorial website at www.johnedayfuneralhome.com