Friends, family and former colleagues of award-winning reporter Jim Gillis, as well as fans of his popular weekly column “Spare Change,” will gather Saturday, Sept. 16, at King Park on …
Friends, family and former colleagues of award-winning reporter Jim Gillis, as well as fans of his popular weekly column “Spare Change,” will gather Saturday, Sept. 16, at King Park on Wellington Avenue in Newport to celebrate his life through the music of many of the local performers he interviewed and profiled during his career at The Newport Daily News.
“Gillispalooza” will run from 2 to 6 p.m. and showcase musicians representing a variety of genres. The public is invited to the free concert, which will benefit New England Donor Services.
For more than 30 years, Gillis moved Daily News readers with his stories of the desperate and the downtrodden. He inspired readers with profiles of ordinary people confronting overwhelming challenges, and alternately rallied and infuriated them with weekly columns about issues as serious as same-sex marriage and as silly as multi-colored or white Christmas lights.
He was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2013 and endured eight years of dialysis. In March 2020, Gillis underwent a successful kidney transplant just days before COVID-19 shut down operating rooms, schools and businesses across Rhode Island. He used his platform as a columnist to promote awareness of the need for organ donors. In addition to sharing details of his personal journey, Gillis wrote about others who had donated or received life-saving organs, and counseled and encouraged many who awaited organ transplants.
He lived life to the fullest with his beloved wife, Julie Bisbano, and his new kidney for three years. Tragically, a heart problem caused his unexpected death on April 17. Gillis was a young 64.
Members of the community are invited to bring their picnics, beach chairs and blankets to King Park on Saturday, Sept. 16, to enjoy the music and to celebrate his life. Bring your “Spare Change” to support Donate Life, which will have a team providing information about how to register as an organ donor.
Sunday, Sept. 17, is the rain date.
No alcohol will be permitted at the park, and guests are encouraged to carpool as parking is limited. A GoFundMe page has been created to defray costs. To contribute, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-memorial-concert-for-jim-gillis