|Birth: ||Feb. 18, 1918, Netherlands|
|Death: ||Jul. 10, 2010|
John Hubert Gelissen, a well-known and beloved icon in Bethel, passed peacefully on July 10th at 4:20 a.m. at Danbury Hospital at 92 years of age. John was born in Heerlen, The Netherlands on February 18th, 1918. He was the loving husband of the late Rena Gelissen and cherished father to his children and grandchildren.
After studying for the seminary in the Netherlands, he volunteered to serve in the 9th American Army, 102nd Infantry Division in the Netherlands during World War II. After a brief service with the American army, he was chosen to be captain of a Red Cross Relief Camp in the Netherlands. This resulted in the rescue of his beloved wife of 59 years, Rena, who had been in Auschwitz Concentration Camp for 3 years and 41 days. John found work in the Netherlands for Rena and her sister, Dina Brandel, along with five other women, who were also in the camp. He was a World War II veteran and truly a hero.
Although a strong Catholic, John married an orthodox Jewish woman when it was not easily accepted. After having three children, his wife was extremely anxious because of the Soviet troop build-up on the Western European border at the time. Thus, they both bravely immigrated to the United States in November of 1954, leaving family friends and financial security behind. Although John had been a successful college professor in the Netherlands, he landed at Ellis Island with his wife and three children and started all over again. Working as a janitor in an ink factory in the Bronx, New York, he slowly worked his way to acquiring another Master's Degree in Science from the University of New Hampshire. He went on to teach at the college level the subjects of Biology and German, and is well known to many nurses for his classes in Anatomy, Physiology, Embryology, Zoology and Botany. He was the Chair of the Science Department at Norwalk Community College and President of the Faculty Association. He also taught at Fairfield and Sacred Heart Universities. He served the State of Connecticut as a teacher for 22 years and retired in January of 1987.
Mr. Gelissen is survived by his brother, Joseph Gelissen, sister-in-law, Jeanne and sister-in-law, Dina Brandel. He was predeceased by his brother, Gerard Gelissen. He is also survived by his four children: Sylvia Lanier and her husband Jim, Joseph Gelissen, Peter Gelissen, Robert Gelissen and his wife, Clare; three grandchildren, Julia, Zachary and Shaun; great grandchild, Baker-Lynn; nieces Sara Cohen and Barbara Pompe-Gelissen; nephews Norman Brandel, Herman Gelissen, Jan Philip Gelissen, and Joseph Gelissen, and their families.
He was truly beloved by all and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. He had a ready smile and compassion for one and all. His wonderful attitude towards life made him a rare role model for all those he came in contact with. There is an empty space in the hearts of all who knew him.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at St. Mary's Church, Bethel, on Wednesday, July 14th, at 10:30 a.m.
Burial will be in St. Mary's Cemetery.
Friends may call at the Green Funeral Home, 57 Main Street, Danbury, CT on Tuesday evening, July 13th, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Published in News Times on July 12, 2010.
Rena Kornreich Gelissen (1920 - 2006)
Saint Marys Cemetery
Created by: Greg Raike
Record added: Jan 09, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 83173938
World War II Victory Medal.|
Added: Jan. 9, 2012