Geraldine Marie Lenihan Cillo
Geraldine Marie Lenihan Cillo

January 12, 1930 - July 19, 2016
Resided in Arvada, CO
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Obituary

Gerry (Lenihan) Cillo was born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1930. Gerry grew up in Burlington, Vermont, where she attended Catholic schools with her sister Connie, learned to speak fluent French and developed a lifelong love of books and art. If Gerry could be described in two phrases, they would be grace under pressure and strength of character.

She became a registered nurse and took on the difficult task of working as a surgical nurse in a VA hospital. She was called to two years active duty with the Air Force in 1953 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. She received training as a flight nurse in Alabama and was stationed in Omaha when she met Anthony Cillo, her husband for forty-three years. Tony was also an Air Force Lieutenant. They married in June 1955 and a decision was made that Tony would stay in the Air Force to help start the Air Force Academy. Tony was transferred to Lowry and their pilot friends would fly Gerry to Denver so she could visit Tony (and they could log their flight hours). Gerry was honorably discharged later that year. She took pleasure over the years in reminding her family that, as a First Lieutenant, she outranked Tony when they were married.

Their son, Michael, was born in Denver in 1956 while the Academy was still at Lowry. The family was then stationed in Paris, France for three years where Gerry's ability to speak fluent French was in demand. France was not an overly welcoming place for Americans in the late 1950's and many military wives returned home. Not Gerry. She could often be found travelling around the city absorbing the culture with her young son, Michael. Gerry and Tony's son, Patrick, was born in Paris in 1959.

After a short stay in Illinois, the family returned to the Air Force Academy in 1963 and remained there for a busy eleven years during what became an eventful and often difficult decade. Gerry took on the challenging role of raising two sons while providing the sometimes demanding support expected from a now senior officers wife. Tony retired from the Air Force in 1974. After completing a two year project in San Antonio, he gave Gerry the option to relocate anywhere she wanted in the United States. She immediately chose Denver and this proved to be a good decision for the family. Tony taught at the University of Denver and became the Athletic Director. Pat stayed in the Denver area, became a police officer and has worked in that field for over 30 years. Mike spent four years in the Marine Corps and returned to Denver to practice law. During these active years, Gerry continued to provide loving support for Tony, her sons and eventually her three grandchildren, Daniel, Anna and Anthony.

Tony passed away in 1998 and Gerry devoted the remainder of her life to her friends, her sons and her grandchildren. The family planned a trip to Ireland in 2003 and Gerry wanted to visit the two villages her family emigrated from. Gerry was recovering from a bout with pneumonia but was not about to miss this trip. After a spectacular and wild two day drive through County Kerry and before visiting Cork and Waterford, we hit the two rather plain villages. Gerry's comment was – she now better understood why the family left Ireland and we headed for Cork. Mike and Pat soon learned why their grandfather, Dan Lenihan, used to call them "real Corkers" when they acted up.

At home, Gerry could often be found with a book in her hand or listening to her grandson, Daniel, play the guitar. Gerry's greatest joy was spending time with the grandchildren and seeing them off to a good start in life.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at the United States Air Force Academy Catholic Chapel with an interment to immediately follow.

Please share memories of Gerry and condolences with her family by signing the guestbook below.

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Service
United States Air Force Academy Catholic Chapel
CO
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
10:00 AM