STERLING – James Weiler Gillespie, 95, of Sterling, passed away Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, at Dixon Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, under the care of Serenity Hospice & Home and the caring staff of the center.
James was born Aug. 14, 1918, in St. Louis, the son of Frederick D. and Irene Myrtle (Feitz) Gillespie, and spent his early years through high school in Springfield. He was an active participant in the Presbyterian Church, the Boy Scouts, YMCA, and Demolay. He was a 32nd Degree Mason. James was very proud of his work with the Boy Scouts. He earned the Silver Beaver Award, as well as the coveted award of “The Silver Wreath,” for continued service in scouting, having served as director on the Board of Blackhawk Council in Rockford for 10 years.
He enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps after high school, followed by 3 years in the Air Force, stationed at Scott Field in Belleville as an assistant chaplain. The church drew him back. In 1947, he entered McCormick Theological Seminary, and after graduation, was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He served churches in Grand Ridge and Sullivan, Grosse Pointe, Mich., and Peru, Ind. Ever the student, Jim entered and graduated from John Marshall Law School. He worked as a federal bank examiner. In 1969, Jim and his wife, Jane, moved to Sterling, where he worked in the trust department of Central National Bank. He then was elected Sterling Township assessor from 1992 to 1996. Members of the historic Presbyterian Church of Polo called him as their minister, and he served from 1974 until its closing in 2006. During these years, he was active with the Presbytery of Blackhawk and the Stronghold Ministries.
He is survived by his daughter, Leah (Jay) Schultz of Ann Arbor, Mich.; a granddaughter, Sarah (Jeffrey) Sugerman of Minneapolis; and a grandson, James (Dawn) Schultz of Redondo Beach, Calif.
James was preceded in death by his loving wife, Jane Neal Gillespie, in 2006.
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 21 at First Presbyterian Church in Sterling, with the Rev. John Huff officiating. A luncheon will be served after the service. Private burial was in Tuscola. Hilligoss Shrader Funeral Home in Tuscola is handling arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established to Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center and Serenity Hospice & Home, both in Oregon.
Visit www.hilligossshraderfh.com to send condolences.