John Milton Gillette



STELLA - John Milton Gillette, 92, of Stella, died peacefully at home Sunday, November 26, 2017. His funeral service will be held Friday at 11:00 AM at Jones Funeral Home, Jacksonville Chapel with the Rev. Jim Stephens officiating. Burial, with Masonic Graveside Rites, will follow at Onslow Memorial Park.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Kathleen; his mother, Grace; his father, John H; and his three sisters, Lucile Crawford, Helen Waldrep and Grace Bell Goodwin. He is survived by his daughter, Zana Kaye Batchelor and husband, Durwood, of Garner, N.C. and his son, James Milton (Jimmy) and wife, Kay, of Stella, N.C. Four grandchildren: Stephanie Lane of Stella; Blair Gillette and wife, Tawnda, of Stella; Kimberly Hatsell and husband, John, of Mt. Olive; Jay Carraway of Stella; eight great-grandchildren: Hunter Lane, Kayla Lane of Stella; Tyler Gillette, Camden Gillette of Stella; Garrett Hatsell, Wyatt Hatsell of Mt. Olive; Brooke Carraway, Trey Carraway of Jacksonville.
He was born December 3, 1924, in Onslow County. He was the only son of John and Grace Gillette. He lived his entire life in Stella, N.C. on the Gillette Farm. He worked the fields at a very early age with his father, John. As time went on, his son, Jimmy, became his farming partner and then his grandson, Blair. The four – John, Milton, Jimmy and Blair established and worked the Gillette Farm.
His life was farming. He loved to plant and see crops grow. Farming was his livelihood, but also his hobby. He often said, “If you don’t have anything to do, dig a hole and fill it up.” He was the first recipient of the Young Farmer of the Year Award and also Master Farmer of the Year Award for Onslow County. Gillette Farms was a diversified farm – raising tobacco, corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, hogs and produce (grapes, watermelons, cantaloupes, peaches, sweet potatoes, etc.). In the early sixties, he helped establish the New River Grape Growers Association and served on the Board of Directors and president of the association. He began growing grapes in 1962. He started with five acres and increased the acreage each year. He grew Magnolias, Carlo, Muscadine and Scuppernong grapes. Milton designed and built a mechanized vine cutter. This invention saved grape producers a lot of labor cost. Two thirds of his production went to wineries in Petersburg, VA and the other third went to fresh Market. He was known for his homemade wine - a Christmas gift to many of his friends.
He was a mason of the Seaside Lodge of Swansboro, N.C and received his 50 year Mason pin. He was an active, lifelong member of Midway United Methodist Church of Stella, N.C. He was proud to be a Methodist. He served on numerous committees and was chairman of the Administrative Board for many years. He loved his Lord, his church, and the church members. If the church needed money, he would be the first to start a fundraiser. He often said, “If there is a will, there is a way.”
He loved farming and took pride in being a farmer. He didn’t have a college degree, but he had what counted – WISDOM AND DETERMINATION. Even though he loved farming, his first love was his wife, Kathleen, who stood by her man. They were married 70 years when she went to be with our Lord in 2014. She was the love of his life, along with his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
He was instrumental in establishing the Onslow County Farm Bureau. He has served on the Board of Directors and held the office of president and treasurer numerous times. He played a major part in having a Onslow County Farm Bureau Office open in Swansboro, NC to better serve the people in the surrounding area. He also worked diligently in planning of the building of the new Onslow County Farm Bureau Main Office located on Hwy. 258.
He loved tractor pulls. He and his son, Jimmy, actually had a tractor pull event on the Gillette Farm. He traveled to many tractor pulls and won numerous trophies. The trophies are displayed in his home.
He had a Big heart. He was very generous and loved to help others who were less fortunate than he. He loved life to the fullest.
Special thanks to his caregivers: Lois Smith, Mini Harrell, Ann Jones and Shana Olson.
They were his earth angels. Also, a special thanks to the Lower Cape Fear Hospice. Your support was unmeasurable.
The family will receive friends Thursday evening from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the funeral home.