Andrew Jackson “Bossy” Gillis

Andrew Jackson “Bossy” Gillis

Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 4 Nov 1965 (aged 69)
Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 84711824 · View Source
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Mayor of Newburyport: 1928-1929; 1930-1931; 1936-1937; 1950-1951; 1952-1953; 1958-1959
Bossy Gillis ran for mayor 20 times and won just six

Read more: Richard Doyle: ‘Did you know that…' - Newburyport, MA - The Newburyport Current

And Bossy Gillis published his own newspaper called "Asbestos" because, " ‘it was so hot to read it had to be printed on asbestos,' " and it "became a town conversation piece and brought Bossy a host of new enemies with each edition

Bill Plante described him as follows:

"Bossy personified the political radicalism of class consciousness," he wrote. "He tipped over the apple cart in ways combative, divisive and highly personal. In or out of office, he was a presence to contend with. He was honest, tough, resilient and, when aroused, politically cruel. In short, even for the times, he was incorrect. But he was loyal to his friends, and they were loyal to him."

"Under the right conditions, his methods succeeded and he was re-elected. When they failed, it was largely because his personal behavior had become tiresome, once again, or enough voters wanted something done he would not do."

Stories about Bossy's personality and stunts abound. One involves his first attempt to build a gas station, in 1925, at the corner of High and State streets, where the Mobil station stands now.

Construction required him to move an old home, and he quickly found himself in a running battle with what he called "the fossils that run this burg" -- the well-heeled, established families of High Street.

Time Magazine zeroed in on the clash and reported that Gillis' foes had enacted zoning ordinances to stop him. In response, Gillis sprinkled his vacant land with tombstones and chamber pots and a sign that proclaimed, "The Spirit of Old Newburyport."

He stormed City Hall and punched the mayor in the face, which landed him in jail for 60 days. Bossy cleared the final hurdles to opening the garage when he became mayor two years later.

His rough-and-tumble political style would continue through his life. He was known to paint the names of political enemies on bathroom plumbing and display the pieces on his building. He shouted out insults if his foes walked through Market Square.

Bossy's unusual personality continued to catch the fancy of the national press. In 1949, when voters returned him to office at age 52 after a 14-year interval, Time Magazine revisited him and described him this way:

"'Bossy Gillis still looked as seedy as Burpee's spring catalogue, and he fitted into the gentle, museum-piece decor of old Newburyport, Mass., like a prime bull at a vegetarians' convention. But the coming of middle age, a wife and a new black bowler had smoothed some of Bossy's sharp edges."

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Six times Mayor Of Newburyport

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  • Created by: Fred Elwell
  • Added: 9 Feb 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 84711824
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Andrew Jackson “Bossy” Gillis (26 Aug 1896–4 Nov 1965), Find A Grave Memorial no. 84711824, citing Saint Marys Cemetery, Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Fred Elwell (contributor 47392228) .