Donald Gillespie

10 entries
  • " Your parents were such great teachers in Koyuk. I am glad..."
    - Maria Knutson (Otton)
  • "Josh, dustin, and family. Both your mom and dad were the..."
    - Mike Dunleavy
  • "It was a great privilege to become friends with Don & Lynn...."
    - Michael Norton
  • "Don and Lynn are truly two of the finest people I have ever..."
  • "Don was my neighbor in Scottsdale for the last few years..."
    - richard bourke
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Donald R. Gillespie, a long time Alaska resident and educator passed away in Scottsdale, Ariz., in the presence of family on May 24, 2017. Don was born in San Francisco and grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Chicago, Ill., before moving to back to the Bay Area, where he met his wife, Lynn (Ichimaru) Gillespie, at San Francisco State University. The pair married shortly after graduation and ventured to Alaska in 1970 to the village of Koyuk on the Seward Peninsula where Don served as the school principal. They taught for 21 years and raised two sons. Don loved animals and all things outdoors, so rural Alaska was a perfect fit. On arriving in Koyuk, he learned to hunt, trap and fish. He also raised all manner of pets, from iguanas and snakes to geese and things in between. Upon retiring, Don and Lynn moved to Wasilla, where Don kept active hiking, woodworking, fly tying and making frequent fishing trips around the state. For many years into his "retirement," Don worked as a substitute teacher in the Mat-Su area elementary schools and assisted new rural educators adapt to life and work in the bush, which sometimes required him to spend weeks at village schools around the state living out of a duffle bag, but he loved the adventure.
Don and Lynn recently moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., to enjoy the warm weather and be closer to family. Mr. Gillespie was preceded in death by Lynn and is survived by his sons, Josh and Dustin; and grandchildren, Ellee, Andrew, Max and Matthew.
Published in Anchorage Daily News from July 30 to July 31, 2017