Gillespie in concert at Colonial Tavern, Toronto, 1978

A long-time resident of Englewood, New Jersey, he died of pancreatic cancer January 6, 1993, aged 75, and was buried in the Flushing Cemetery, Queens, New York. Mike Longo delivered a eulogy at his funeral. He was also with Gillespie on the night he died, along with Jon Faddis and a select few others.

At the time of his death, Gillespie was survived by his widow, Lorraine Willis Gillespie (d. 2004); a daughter, jazz singer dizzy-6Jeanie Bryson; and a grandson, Radji Birks Bryson-Barrett. Gillespie had two funerals. One was a Bahá’í funeral at his request, at which his closest friends and colleagues attended. The second was at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York open to the public.

Dizzy Gillespie, a Bahá’í since about 1970, was one of the most famous adherents of the Bahá’í Faith which helped him make sense of his position in a succession of trumpeters as well as turning his life from knife-carrying roughneck to global citizen, and from alcohol to ‘soul force’, in the words of author Nat Hentoff, who knew Gillespie for forty years. Gillespie’s conversion was most affected by Bill Sear’s book Thief in the Night. Gillespie spoke about the Bahá’í Faith frequently on his trips abroad. He is honored with weekly jazz sessions at the New York Bahá’í Center in the memorial auditorium.

As a tribute to him, DJ Qualls’ character in the 2002 American teen comedy film The New Guy was named Dizzy Gillespie Harrison.

The Marvel Comics current Hawkeye comic written by Matt Fraction features Gillespie’s music in a section of the editorials called the “Hawkguy Playlist”.

Also, Dwight Morrow High School, the public high school of Englewood, New Jersey, renamed their auditorium the Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium, in memory of him.

In 2014, Gillespie was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.