Maxwell Claude Gillette, age 93, died Dec. 10, 2020, at Sutter Health Hospital, Van Ness Campus, where he was being treated for lung cancer.
Born in Des Arc, Arkansas on March 2, 1927, Maxwell was the youngest of 12 children.
In 1943, his parents, Charles and Emma Gillette moved to San Francisco from Chicago, bringing Maxwell and four of his sisters and brothers (Gladys, Edythe, Roscoe, and Harold) with them. The children attended public school in San Francisco with Maxwell graduating from Lowell High School in 1945. After earning his BA and MA in Industrial Arts Education at San Francisco State College, he was hired by the San Francisco Unified School District as an Industrial Arts teacher and taught at Ben Franklin School where he was one of its two Black instructors.
Studious, ambitious, and determined to give of his best, in 1971 he earned his Secondary School Administrative credential from the University of San Francisco. In 1984, he was appointed director of John Adams Adult School. He retired from the San Francisco Community College District in 1991.
Upon their arrival in San Francisco, the Gillette family joined Bethel AME Church and Maxwell was an active participant, serving on the Junior Usher Board, the Chancel Choir, and other programs, eventually taking a trustee position, which he held for more than 60 years. He was named Trustee Emeritus last year.
He was a member of the Victoria #3 Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, the African American Historical Society, the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and the Sigma Phi Phi fraternity. He was the recipient of several awards, including KQED’s “Local Hero” and “Man of the Year” by the SFBPW, Inc.
Maxwell is the last of the 12 Gillette siblings, four of whom died within the last two years. His brothers Harold and Roscoe died in July and November of 2019; and sister Geraldine Earp was buried this Nov. 19, 2020.
He leaves to mourn his wife of 44 years, Frankie Jacobs Gillette, and numerous nieces and nephews throughout the Bay Area and the country.
Contact Bethel AME Church at email@example.com regarding A Virtual Celebration of Life Service for Maxwell Gillette, which will be held Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.