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Alicia Hayes Gillette

September 24, 1932 November 25, 2020
Alicia  Hayes Gillette
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Obituary for Alicia Hayes Gillette

Alicia Hayes Gillette (nee Cummiskey) died peacefully, November 25, 2020 at St. Anne’s Mead nursing facility in Southfield, Michigan. She was 88 years old. Alicia was born on September 24, 1932 in Detroit to parents, Constance (nee Burns) and John Moylan Hayes. Her parents died when she was a toddler and Alicia and her sister, Mimi, were raised by their aunt and uncle, Mary Paul and James Cummiskey. Their two older sisters, Schofield and Constance Hayes died with their mother in a tragic Grosse Pointe house fire in 1937, a year after their father’s death. The Cummiskeys then moved to the Birmingham area in 1942, with the Hayes girls and their children, Constance and Peter Cummiskey. The four children were always considered siblings.

Alicia was a graduate of Michigan State University where she was the secretary of the Class of 1954 and a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority. In 1955, she married Jeremiah B. “Jere” Gillette of Birmingham where they raised four children and both became active in their community.

Alicia was a 1985 recipient of the coveted United Foundation Heart of Gold Award for outstanding volunteer service. At that time she had spearheaded a successful suburban and corporate effort to keep the Detroit public Libraries open. She served on numerous boards of directors including the Junior League of Birmingham, The League of Catholic Women of Detroit, The Village Women’s Club Foundation and the Birmingham Community House. She and Jere served as co-chairman of the 1981 Community House Fund Drive. Alicia was a charter member of the City of Birmingham’s Parking Commission and in 1999 reactivated her civic zeal to help stop the stampede of “Bigfoot” houses in Birmingham.

Alicia, a free-lance writer, photographer, public relations consultant, noted community volunteer and civic activist, was a columnist and feature writer for the Birmingham Eccentric (1970’s) and The Detroit News (1980’s). Her portfolio also included writing and photo credits for several other publications. She always said that her first and favorite professional writing gig was her humor column for the long-defunct Metro Detroit Shopping News. It was then she interviewed Erma Bombeck, and they remained friends until Erma’s death.

A member of the Junior League of Phoenix, Arizona, Alicia was also a member of the Christ Child Society of Phoenix where the Gillettes spent their winters for 20 years. At Holy Name Church in Birmingham, she was a long-time lector and had served on the Administration and Christian Service commissions as well as the Holy Name School SEED Foundation.

Alicia “Lee Lee” was a devoted mother and grandmother. She was a generous and loving friend to many, all of whom she cherished. She spent her later years entertaining, enjoying bridge, book club, garden club and time spent with family and her many friends. She was deeply loved and will be sorely missed.

Alicia is survived by her four children, Marcus (Sheila) Gillette of Scotsdale, Arizona, Mary Ricci of Evergreen, Colorado, Alicia (Judd) Hart of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Katharine “Katie” Giese of Bloomfield, Michigan, her cherished grandchildren, Jennifer Gillette, Currie Ricci, Katy Ricci, Meghan (Jeffrey) Olsen, Ashley (Tyler) Warner, Tyler (Daniela) Hart, Samuel Giese, and Carli Giese, and her great-grandchildren, Benjamin, Charleigh, Hazel, Whittaker, and Irelynd Rose. She is also survived by her sister Constance Cummiskey. Alicia is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Jeremiah “Jere” Gillette, her sister, Mary Moylan “Mimi” Murphy of Tucson, Arizona and brother, Peter Cummiskey of Birmingham, Michigan.

A Memorial Service & Celebration of her Life will be held in the summer of 2021.

Memorials may be made to Angel’s Place, 25240 Lahser Road, Suite #2, Southfield, Michigan 48033.

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