Obituary: Virginia (Samples) Gillette

Great-grandmother, clothing designer, actor, director

Virginia (Samples) Gillette, loving wife, and mother of three daughters, died at the age of 96 on Thursday, March 23.

“Ginny” was born August 18th to Willard and Margaret (Stump) Samples in Edison, Nebraska, where she grew up. She was the youngest of four children. She played the French horn in the school band and received first place for her beautiful tone at a state competition.

She married John Gillette on August 29, 1948, and they moved to Denver so he could complete his engineering degree at the University of Denver. They then moved to San Diego and bought a house in Clairemont, where they raised three daughters, Robin, Susan, and Lori.

She was a talented designer and seamstress and designed and made beautiful gowns for her three girls. She also designed and made costumes for local musical theater companies. Her artistic talents included cake decorating and making pine needle baskets.

After she and John moved to the Hillcrest retirement community in La Verne in 2001, she co-founded The Thespians, Hillcrest’s theater group, and directed and performed in many of its productions.

She loved music, cats, gardening, and children of all ages. She was a mentor for the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s Camp Afflerbaugh-Paige juvenile probation program hosted by Hillcrest several years ago, where she enjoyed working with the boys and had a special knack for communicating with them, helping them with crafts, and providing guidance and socialization skills.

She was preceded in death by her husband, John; sister, Twyla; and brothers Gifford and Paul.

She is survived by her daughters Robin Gillette, Susan Cannon, and Lori Lillich; grandchildren Marty, Jonathan, and Kathryn; and several great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

“Ginny will be remembered for her kind heart and her infectious laugh,” her family shared.


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