William H. “Bill” Gillespie, age 93 of Ft. Collins, Colorado formerly of Ellis, Kansas passed away on February 20, 2019 at Centre Ave. Rehab in Ft. Collins, Colorado. He was born in Elk City, Oklahoma, Nov. 30, 1925 to parents Millard F. & Bettie (Davis) Gillespie. He spent his early years in Oklahoma moving to California shortly after the start of WWII in 1941.
He moved to Kansas in 1943 at age 17 where he met and married Verneita Fischer. They were both working at Boeing Aircraft on the second B29 that Boeing was building for the war. He joined the US Navy in January 1944 and was originally trained as a tail gunner for the Douglas SBD plane but the war had ended in Europe so he was sent to Hawaii for radar counter measure training and was assigned to a night Air Group VTN 52 aboard the carrier ‘Bon Homme Richard’. After leaving Pearl Harbor he was put on hold at the Island of Guam because 2 atomic bombs had been dropped on Japan. He was fortunate not to have been in actual combat and was discharged in Feb. 1946.
He had several business ventures in his long life from owning the Fairlawn Dairy, the Firestone store and oil hauling truck in Kansas. After moving back to Calif. in 1955 he worked for Helm’s Bakery and Coca Cola while waiting to be begin the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Academy. Bill had many interesting experiences working as a Sgt. homicide detective for Los Angeles County, unfortunately he suffered a severe heart attack in July 1974 and was medically retired.
He and Verneita moved back to Kansas in 1977 and spent several years traveling and visiting their family. They traveled to all 50 states in their lifetime plus Germany, Hong Kong, China, Egypt, Philippine Islands, and England. Bill visited Veteran memorials with the Honor Flight in Washington DC in 2010.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Verneita of 56 years in 1999. Also two brothers, Millard C. Gillespie & Eugene L. Gillespie.
He is survived by his wife Lois (Kelsch-Geyer) Gillespie of the home in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Sons Ron Gillespie (BettyJo) of Alpine, Utah; Gene Gillespie (Rinda) of Ft. Collins, Colorado; Daughters Pat Deutscher (Steve) of Clay Center, Kansas; Karen Ware (Danny) of Blanchard, Oklahoma. 10 Grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, 4 step children, 4 step grandchildren, 7 step great grandchildren
Funeral services will be 10 AM Thursday, February 28, 2019 at the Ellis United Methodist Church. Burial with military honors will be at 1 PM Thursday at the Plainville Cemetery, Plainville, Kansas.
Visitation will be Wednesday 6 PM - 8 PM at Keithley Funeral Chapel 400 E 17th Ellis, KS 67637 and Thursday 9 AM until service time at the church.
Memorials are suggested to the Ellis Public Library .
Condolences may be left by guest book at www.keithleyfuneralchapels.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org