George K. Gillander

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  • "Karen I just read about your brothers passing. I am so..."
    - Judy Graham
  • "To Ilene and family-so sorry to hear of George's passing. I..."
  • "George was my classmate from grade school. We were dance..."
    - Anna Johnston
  • "Karen, my sister told me of your brother's death just..."
  • "Karen and family, I am so terribly sorry for your loss. A..."
    - Betsey (Paterson) Lord
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BARRE TOWN - George Karl Gillander fell asleep in the arms of Jesus on Monday, April 29, 2013, at his home on Sunrise Road in Barre Town after a courageous five-year battle with cancer.

He was born in Hartford, Conn., on Sept. 21, 1945, to Mae Elise Osterberg and Wallace Edgar Gillander. They returned to Vermont when George was 3 years old to live with his maternal grandparents, Karl and Greta Osterberg. The family moved to Montpelier during George's elementary school years.

George attended Montpelier High School and graduated in the class of 1963. He was looking forward to their 50th class reunion in October of this year. In high school, he was the sophomore class president and president of the Student Council during his senior year. He lettered in Alpine skiing, track, junior varsity baseball and junior varsity football. After high school, George received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1968 from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., where he studied business administration.

George began working at a young age delivering newspapers. He then pumped gas at his father's gas station, Gill's Mobil, on River Street. George was a very personable guy, and he got to know practically everyone in Montpelier. After college, George moved to Detroit, Mich., to work for General Foods. Because of the riots and racial tensions, this hometown boy decided the big city was not for him, and he moved back to Montpelier within six months. This move coincided with the decline in his father's health, which allowed him to take over running the gas station. He continued there for two years.

He realized he wasn't using his college education, and he secured a job with Vermont Mutual Insurance Co. He began his insurance career as a clerk in the Treasurer's Department and ended as the assistant treasurer before he joined the firm of Denis, Ricker and Brown. Here, he worked as an institutional sales representative for property and casualty insurance, eventually becoming a partner and vice president of the company. After the business was purchased by Hickok and Boardman, he worked for a short time as an underwriter at Vermont Mutual and as a surplus lines broker for New England Excess Exchange.

George was an expert skier. He grew up skiing at Stowe, where he competed on the Mount Mansfield Junior Eastern Ski Team. He was proud of his accomplishment of starting a ski club at Babson College. George loved sports of all kinds, and he made many friends playing on the Men's Softball League as well as the Men's Twilight Golf League at the Montpelier Elks Country Club.

George had a fascination with motorcycles, even after his first ride ended in disaster. While working at the gas station, a patron asked George to fix a faulty throttle. Not knowing how to ride or what to do, George jumped on the bike anyway, the throttle stuck, and he crashed through the plate glass window into the station. This prompted him to take a motorcycle safety class and he became a talented motorcyclist. He was still talking about what motorcycle he wanted to buy this spring.

Even though he owned several Harleys, his favorite bike was a 1992 Honda Gold Wing. He and Ilene logged thousands of miles traveling around the country on this bike. His philosophy was that if he and Ilene could share space in the saddlebags and ride hundreds of miles a day without arguing, then their marriage would be a success. He was right.

George joined The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in 1966. He was always fond of telling people he was initiated by his father who was the sitting exalted ruler of The Montpelier Lodge at the time. To add to the proud Elk moments in his life, George helped in the initiation of his daughter, Wendy, a few weeks ago. There never was such a devoted Elk than George. He volunteered his time and talents over the years, becoming exalted ruler himself in 1992. He held many state offices including state president and district deputy. At the end of his life, he still was state accident prevention chairman and a state trustee. He loved telling the story that he proposed Ilene as his "brother," before he proposed to her to be his wife. He loved the Elks and the Elks loved George.

George married Ilene Rae Sinclair at The Round Church in Richmond, Vt., on Oct. 25, 1997, which was an important date as it was her mother and father's 55th wedding anniversary. They have made their home in Barre Town ever since. George always joked that it was hard to live in Barre because he was a "Montpelier boy." George and Ilene loved to travel and they led many travel groups across Europe, China, Peru and Egypt.

George was a man of character, deep feelings and a strong work ethic. His determination, faith and will to live were unprecedented. All who knew George called him "friend." Because of his devoted friendships and winning smile, everyone who met George respected him.

George leaves behind Ilene Rae, his best friend, travel partner and wife, of Barre Town; his daughter, Wendy Marie, of Middlesex; his sister Sandra Lunde and her husband, Richard, of Devil's Lake, N.D., his sister Karen Gordon and her partner, Chuck Acebo, of Barre Town; as well as several nieces and cousins and their families. It must be mentioned that he also leaves his trusted old brown dog, Rinky, whom he called his "recuperation dog" who helped him heal after every surgery and was by his side when he passed.

George and Ilene would like to thank Dr. Maxwell Vergo and the Palliative Care Team of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for their tremendous caring and compassion as well as nurse Mary Crossman of Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice who provided incredible support, excellent care and loving advice throughout this entire journey with cancer.

A service of thanksgiving will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, May 3, 2013, in the Barre Congregational Church, officiated by the Rev. David Vanderlinde-Abernathy.

Friends may gather from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 2, 2013, at the Hooker and Whitcomb Funeral Home, 7 Academy St., Barre.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the "Silver Towers Program" in care of the Montpelier Lodge of Elks 924, 203 Country Club Road, Montpelier, VT 05602.

Arrangements are in the able hands of Bruce Judd and the Hooker and Whitcomb Funeral Home at 7 Academy St., Barre, VT 05641.
Published in Times Argus on May 1, 2013
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