Guiding principle was WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Donald L. Gilleland, 83, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, went to be with the Lord on September 14, 2023. In recent years he suffered from coronary artery disease and diabetes, both caused by his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.
His wonderful wife of 60 years, Margaret (Peggy) Gilleland died on December 28, 2018, after struggling with Metastatic Ovarian Cancer for 18 months.
Gilleland was born in Alton, IL As a young man he was a long-distance runner who ran eight miles every day. In mid-life (age 40) he discovered he had some racquet talent and became a very competitive racquetball player.
He was married for 60 years to the former Peggy Chaffee, from Worcester, MA, whom he met at Southern Illinois University in 1956 where they studied communications together. Peggy was the love of his life! She kept him on a level plane, corrected him when he strayed too far off center, and made him laugh more than anyone else in this world. She was his very best friend as well as his lover and lifelong partner.
He came to Brevard County in 1994 from Falls Church VA. He felt his relationship with Jesus Christ and his belief in personal integrity overrode all other considerations in life. He would not lie even if the truth cost him dearly, which it sometimes did.
With a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in Public Relations from Boston University, Gilleland served 30 years in the military (eight years enlisted in the U.S. Navy and 22 years commissioned in the U.S. Air Force).
During his military career, Gilleland served with the Joint Casualty Resolution Center, accompanying search and recovery teams throughout South Vietnam, locating, exhuming, and repatriating remains of servicemen who had died in combat, but whose bodies had never been recovered. He was also a member of the five-man planning staff that created the National Defense University at Ft. McNair in Washington, DC.
Gilleland retired from the Air Force in 1984 as chief, of Air Force Public Affairs Western Region, where he coordinated Air Force cooperation with the movie and TV industry. He was instrumental in creating the 1984 ABC television series “Call to Glory,” which starred Craig T. Nelson, Cindy Pickett, Kennan Wynn, and Elizabeth Shue.
During his military service, he received the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Humanitarian Service Medal.
After retiring from the Air Force, Gilleland worked for the LTV Aerospace and Defense Company as director of public relations and advertising for its AM General Division in South Bend, Indiana until 1987. From 1987 to 1994 he worked for General Dynamics Corporation, where he retired as corporate director of public affairs, responsible for worldwide news media relations.
Following retirement he worked occasionally as a public affairs consultant during which he wrote a history of the General Dynamics Corporation and its predecessor companies covering operations from 1851 to 1997, and an expansive series of articles on the manufacture of Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines.
He also served on the board of directors for six community organizations, including Calvary Chapel Academy and the Creative Arts Foundation of Brevard, Inc., both of Melbourne, FL.
He was a frequent contributor to publications. He loved to write and had over 600 articles published in a variety of nationally and internationally circulated magazines and newspapers. He also wrote and had five books published: about major changes to America over a 50-year period; about exciting things Americans do that rarely get much media attention; about how God has blessed our country with attributes that set it apart from the rest of the world; covering issues about which Americans hold mixed feelings; and, his memoir.
Gilleland lived in Suntree, FL from 1994 until his death. He was a devout Christian who enjoyed serving as an usher at the Calvary Chapel Melbourne/Viera church, hugging hundreds of people every week. As he became older he became bolder in his walk with Jesus Christ, who was his number one role model. His favorite reference and guiding principle was WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?
He is also survived by three family members: Patricia Ann Bondoc (sister) of California, Richard D. (Denise) Gilleland (brother) of Moriarty, NM, and Frank Bock (brother-in-law) of Alton, IL. He was predeceased by four family members: Orval Gilleland (father), Josephine Gilleland (mother), and sisters, Carol Sue Gilleland, and Mary Jo (Frank) Bock of Alton, IL.
Gilleland will be cremated, after which his ashes will reside in a columbarium in Arlington National Cemetery, along with those of his wife. A celebration of life service will be planned at a later date.
The post OBITUARY: Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Donald L. Gilleland, 83, of Suntree, Passed Away Sept. 14 appeared first on Space Coast Daily.