July 17, 1920 - December 30, 2015
July 17, 1920 - December 30, 2015
On December 30, 2015 Harold John (Jack) Gillingham reached the end of his life journey. He died, surrounded by love, two days after being hospitalized during a Christmas visit with family in Alberta. Jack was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on July 17, 1920, the first of Ken and Minnie (Thorne) Gillingham’s six children. He grew up on Golf Avenue where he was first named Jack by a neighbour for whom he ran errands.
In September 1939, like his father before, Jack answered his country’s call to arms and volunteered for service in the Royal Air Force where he served as a wireless operator with 149 Squadron. On the night of March 1 / 2, 1943, on a raid against Berlin, his bomber was attacked by a night fighter and, as it headed home, the “Skipper” decided that fuel was too low and gave the order to bail out over Gueutteville near Dieppe, France.
Jack became a Prisoner of War and was sent to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in Poland. He survived the infamous “Long March” which started in January 1945 and was a POW until liberation on Good Friday, March 30th. His desire to return to his beloved Newfoundland was what sustained him.
On his return to England Jack was reunited with Adela Harrison. They were married in Rotherham in September 1945 and arrived together in Corner Brook in January 1946.
On his return to St. John’s, Jack trained as an electrician. After working for City Electrical Company Limited, where he was a shop steward with the IBEW, he went into business with his father as an electrical contractor. In 1965 Jack became an Electrical Inspector with the Newfoundland Power Commission. Over the next ten years he travelled throughout Newfoundland and Labrador where his inspections were concerned with the rural electrification program and development of the provincial power grid. Wherever he went, Jack’s approach to work won the respect of all he came in contact with.
Jack’s wife Adela succumbed to cancer in December 1968. However, in March 1971 he married Florence Wilson (nee Tilley) and a new amazing family was born. In 1985 Jack retired, and ten years later, after fifty years on Bennett Avenue in St. John’s, he moved to Kelligrews which was his much-loved home until his passing.
Over the years Jack was active with the Royal Canadian Legion, Wesley United Church and the Air Force Association of Canada. He was a modest man who learned by hard experience to value life’s simple pleasures. Jack was also a man of many practical skills and any project he turned his hand to was done in a first class manner. He was a much loved hero to his family and all who knew him.
In addition to his parents and Adela, Jack was predeceased by his sister Margaret Woolridge, his brothers Gerald, Fred and wife Anne, Roy and wife Mildred, sister-in-lay Joan and her husband Hal LeClair, brother-in-law David Tilley, and brother-in-law Ted Barnes.
Jack is survived by his loving wife Florence; children David Wilson (Dot), Marilyn Tucker (Richard), Elaine Legge (Albert), Wenda Crummell (Bruce), John (Linda), Karen Miller (George) and Rae-Anne Ornella (Robert); grand-children Cherie, Greg, Adele, Michelle, Denise, Rick, Andrea, Carolyn, Kelly, Leyna, Angela, Jessica and Marcus; great-grand-children Ryan, Jayne, Daniel, Meagan, Jayme, Jordan, and baby Jack. He is also survived by his sister Joan Simmonds (Doug), brother-in-law Bruce Tilley (Liz), and sister-in-law Daphne Barnes. He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, as well as many close friends, especially Scott and Cathy Oliver and family, plus the fabulous ladies (you know who you are!) of the Sunday card club.
The family wishes to express their appreciation to the staff of the Red Deer Regional Hospital for the compassionate care provided to Jack.
Visitation in the James J. Hickey Memorial Funeral Home, Kelligrews, on Saturday, January 9th (1 p. m. to 9 p.m.); Sunday, January 10th (noon to 9 p..m.). Funeral service to take place on Monday, January 11th , 2016 at 2 pm from the James J. Hickey Memorial Chapel, Kelligrews. Interment in the Field of Honour at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Flowers gratefully accepted, or donations can be made to the Royal Canadian Legion, the Poppy Fund or Veterans Voices of Canada. To sign the guest registry, or to send a message of condolence, please visit www.hickeysfuneralhome.ca
Our hearts are broken but our love and our pride live on.
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