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Watson E. Gilmore Jr.

1920 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Watson E. Gilmore Jr. Obituary
WATSON E. GILMORE JR. 1920- 2016 Watson "Mike" E. Gilmore Jr., 96, went to be with our Lord on Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Memorial services for Mr. Gilmore will be at 11am on Saturday, July 9, 2016 at Hemet Valley Mortuary, 403 N. San Jacinto St, Hemet, CA. He was the son of Watson Ellsworth Gilmore Sr. and Maude Phoebe (Scranton) Gilmore born in Hemet on June 5, 1920. He married Melba Louise Smith on July 28, 1945 in Hemet, who passed away April 28, 2005. Mr. Gilmore attended local Hemet schools through his childhood and adolescence. During his senior year, he was elected Class President. He was extremely proud of winning the CIF Championship 1938-39, playing as center, with the football team. Upon graduation in 1939, he enrolled in Chaffee College, majoring in Veterinary Science, leaving college at the onset of WWII. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps May of 1942. He trained at USMC recruit Depot in San Diego, on the Douglas SBD Dauntless, a naval dive-bomber. Arriving in the Pacific Theatre of WWII, Watson took part in the Guadalcanal Campaign as well as battles for Luzon and Southern Philippine Islands. His squadron flew from American U.S. Navy carriers, USS Altamaha, USS Enterprise and from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal Island. For his exemplary performance, he received major military flying awards, which include the Distinguished Flying Cross and on six occasions, the award of the Air Medal. Watson was recalled to service during the Korean War in 1951, trained in Air Traffic Control but serving in camp Pendleton, as Infantry School Instructor at the ranks of Tech and Gunnery Sergeant. In 1953, Mr. Gilmore joined the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. Attending the first Basic Academy classes in Riverside, Watson served as Class Vice President, graduating second in his class, May 9, 1953, with badge #6. Assigned to the Tri-Stations of Banning, Lake Elsinore and Hemet. He worked the majority of his 25-year career from the Hemet Station. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1959 and retiring December 1974. Watson also known for his acting skills, participated with the Hemet Theatre Troup, later becoming a founding member of the Ramona Hillside Players, and joining the cast of the Ramona Pageant. With a career spanning 52 years with that play, he played various roles in "Ramona", including rock Indian, Spanish Dancer, Ysidro, the infamous Jim Farrar, Felipe and, the role he is most closely associated with and remembered, Juan Canito, the ranch overseer. His last performance in the role was in 2001 at the age of 80. In addition to his participation in the Ramona Pageant, community service was a large part of his life. With his wife Melba, he designed and built elaborate flower headdresses, for the St. Hyacinth School fundraiser. They were awarded first prize many times with the help of their talented model, Chickie Limon. Watson designed and help build an equestrian jump for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He received a special Certificate of Honor and incredible memories. In 2010 four boys hiking and throwing rocks in the Juniper Flats area of Hemet unearthed a small corked bottle containing a note written by Jack Crawford and Watson, dated January 22, 1938. When interviewed Watson, age 89, stated, "We were good friends. We used to do a lot of dumb stuff!". The Press-Enterprise penned it "A find for the ages" having been hidden 72 years. Watson is survived by his daughters Claudia Gilmore; Phoebe Ames: and Martha Gilmore, of Hemet; his grandchildren, Michelle & Tim Welch; Mona & Larry Ruddell; Stacey Sanzberro; Candace Kreisinger-Price; TJ & Aimee Ames and his great grandchildren, Christian Giorgianni; Preston Giorgianni; Phoebe Welch; Mason Forqueran; Mark Goldstein; Jac!yn Forqueran; Logan Ruddell; Hannah Goldstein; Marley Price; Ethan Little; Oliver Ames; and Elliot Ames.


Published in Press-Enterprise on July 7, 2016
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