Burlington, MA - Gilbert Warriner Bliss, news reporter, sports enthusiast and music collector, died at Lahey Hospital on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, a day short of his 65th birthday.
Gil was born in Waltham, MA, the son of the late Annette (George) and Gilbert A. Bliss. He was the husband of Margaret A. Charig Bliss, and father of the late Samuel Warriner Charig Bliss. He is survived by two step-daughters, Heather Lee Gauthier and her partner Clayton LaPalme of Tiverton, RI, and Sarah Kissell and her partner Rob Sunski of Princeton, TX. He is also survived by his sister, Cynthia Bliss and her husband David Tassinari of Middleborough, MA; and two brothers, Rev. Don Bliss and his wife Lori Bliss of East Freetown, MA, and Mason Bliss and his wife Jennifer Bliss of Peterborough, NH.
Gil lived in various Massachusetts towns as a child, but he always called Middleborough his home base. He graduated from Middleborough High School in 1972 and graduated from Bridgewater State College, as a political science major. Early in life, he served the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Environmental Management, Forests and Parks, like his father. During his college years, he worked as a police dispatcher for Middleborough, and as a disc jockey and sports broadcaster at the college radio station. He wrote for the college paper and served in the Massachusetts Senate as an aide to the late Edward P. “Ned” Kirby, R-Whitman. His years at Bridgewater helped spark his lifelong interest in politics, sports, arts, music and travel.
He worked as a writer for The Enterprise in Brockton, MA, The Standard-Times in New Bedford, MA, The Union Leader in Manchester, NH, and as a freelance writer for The Boston Globe.
Globe Photojournalist Stan Grossfeld said, “Gil was an American original. A damn good writer and great newspaperman.”
Gil covered police, courts, local politics, and town government, but his true love was feature writing, arts, music and interviewing celebrities. During his career, he talked with such luminaries as Kurt Vonnegut, Miss Patti Page and Johnny Most. But he found greatness in lesser names; he was profoundly touched by his interview with an Auschwitz survivor who had never before told his story. Gil had an uncanny ability to evoke people’s deep and personal stories. One of his fondest memories was being Santa Claus for children and seniors in the Middleborough area. He noted that even the most lost dementia patients often recognized Santa.
Gil was well-traveled, having gone to the United Kingdom more than a dozen times, as well as to Europe. He was particularly fond of the Portuguese Algarve. Nearer to home, he recounted sitting at night with his close friend on the hood of his car on the edge of the New Mexico desert outside Tucumcari, gazing at a sky with a million stars.
An avid sports enthusiast, he followed soccer (futebol), cricket and rugby at the international level, as well as American basketball, football, baseball and hockey. He was a 30-year Red Sox season ticket holder. Gil was once taken aback by a Turkish man’s tears when he casually mentioned Galatasaray, the Turkish football team; the man had not heard the name in years.
In 1992, Gil built his home on old family land in Greenfield, where he served as Town Moderator and Cemetery Trustee for many years. He was an avid swimmer, and swam at Whittemore and Sunset Lakes in Greenfield from April to October. In recent years, he and his wife shared their time between Greenfield and their seaside home in Bremen, Maine.
Gil’s compassion and humanitarianism prompted him to support many charitable causes, local and afar, including the Boston “Globe Santa” for many years.
Following a kidney transplant in 2004 from his beloved sister Cynthia, Gil began using his recovery time to collect music and movies; he never stopped, and he leaves a collection of more than 8,000 CDs and 600 DVDs, including complete works of some musicians, actors and movie directors.
Longtime friend Paul Ehney epitomized Gil’s life when he quoted the late great Jerry Garcia: “What a long strange trip it’s been.”
Gil was predeceased by his parents and by a brother Charles Edward Bliss. In addition to nieces and cousins, he is survived by grandchildren Jackson Gagnon, and Desirae and Silas Gauthier, all of Tiverton, RI, and Kyler Jones, and Caeden and Michael Dunning, all of Princeton, TX. He also recognized as family Tessa Lee LaPalme, the daughter of Clayton LaPalme, and Erik and Emma Sunski, children of Rob Sunski.
Cremation services were provided by Jellison Funeral Home, 25 Concord St., Peterborough, NH. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Neil Maranville Memorial Music Scholarship, c/o Paul Ehney, 315 Wareham St., Middleborough, MA. A service for Gil, officiated by his brother Don, will be held at the Congregational Christian Church in East Freetown, MA, at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 27, followed by a potluck collation. A celebration of his life will also be held at the Greenfield, NH, Meeting House at 1 p.m. Aug. 24. Bring a chair, bring a dish, bring a song or a story.
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