Born on Lake Stevens Hill Road April 28, 1919, Harold (Hal) died in Everett March 2, 2018. He attended Fobes School (participated in a reunion last summer) and Everett High School where he met his future wife of 61 years, Mildred Olsen. Harold, also known as “Gilly,” and “Red” for his red hair, served in the military in North Africa and Italy in WWII. He worked as a printer at Everett Pulp and Paper (later Simpson-Lee Paper) in Lowell until the closing of the mill. In 1974 he and Milly moved to Lopez Island where he worked for many years at Sunset Builders Supply. Hal moved back to Everett a few years after Milly’s death and there reconnected with many friends, especially with Billie Dickenson, a long-time acquaintance from Fobes. Though clearly a Northwesterner, he made travel an important part of his life: to New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Israel and Senegal, as well as various destinations in the US and Canada.
Whether in Everett or on Lopez Island, Hal was known for his gregarious nature, sense of humor, and generous spirit. He was a wonderful and supportive friend to many. Through his many talents – handyman, humorist, carpenter, actor, printer, caretaker, storyteller, painter, poet, flute maker and player, ballroom dancer, and singer—he found many ways to enter into community life. As Steve Hill of Lopez once wrote in a review of Hal’s book of poetry: “He was the only person I ever knew who could run a letterpress and sing beautiful opera at the same time.”
Son, husband, father, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, Hal lived a long life that enriched the lives of others. He is survived by his daughter, Sharon Gunnerson, and his sons Dan Gillespie and Mike Gillespie, granddaughters Quinn Gillespie and Gemma Gillespie, grandson Gannon Gillespie, and great-grandsons Enea Villa-Gillespie and Mael Villa-Gillespie. His family is extremely grateful for the attentiveness and care of the staff of Brookdale Everett, where Hal lived for the past three years, and of Kaiser hospice who eased his last days.
Memorial contributions can be made to Tostan, whose educational projects Hal visited in Senegal, or to the Everett Recovery Café where he was a Person of Presence.
Join in a celebration of Hal’s life and share lunch at 12 p.m. on April 15, at the Everett United Church of Christ, 2624 Rockefeller.