When I was young there were people in our town who were called “pillars of the church.” We lost a significant one from our Bloomington church on Saturday. As a newly hired office manager of a church whose denomination was new to me, I depended on key people to provide guidance and support. Jerry Gilliand was church treasurer and he seemed to be around whenever I needed him. Jerry handled the sound system on Sunday mornings. He also sang and played guitar and fiddle in our “house band,” Zenith Avenue, for special services. Jerry was a handyman when things needed fixing. He knew whom to call to get things done quickly, often asking experts from our church family for assistance. After his retirement from Northwest Airlines where he was a pilot, he became someone for the minister, also new to the church, to consult. He was generous with his time, talents, and financial acumen and was among those who kept our small organization growing and solvent. His good sense and sense of humor defused tense situations over the years. Not many of the successful decisions in the church are without his imprint. He initiated a program of rides to the airport. Members called a driver from their neighborhood who made a contribution to the church in gratitude for the ride. The children sought him out after services as his briefcase held treats.
On a personal note, I am grateful to Jerry and Marv Gish for getting my husband back into tennis after a break of almost 20 years.They put together a foursome after the spring picnic one year. After that time Jerry joined a group playing at Match Point in Lakeville, and later at Lifetime. He and his wife Barb have many friends in the congregation as they became part of the fabric of our church life. A dependable presence in our midst, he has been missed as his illness kept him from us. It is always difficult to reshape ones world when someone is no longer a part of it.