A hero is gone


Karl Miller, me and Bob Gillan, 4/09 Boone Co. Gardenfest, the last Bluebird Society event he made it to.

I was so blessed by this man.  He taught me about bluebirds and lots of other things along the way.  He was such an amazing and inspiring person.  I promised him we would keep the Bluebird Society going.  I’ll miss him but he will always inspire me, and I’m glad I was able to tell him what a blessing he was to my life.  One of the last things he said to me then was “I’m glad there is a Christy.”  He was always a great encourager and teacher to all.

Dr. Robert L. Gillan



Dr. Robert L. Gillan of Thorntown died Sunday, Sept. 6, at Homewood Health Care Center, Lebanon. He was 93.

Born Aug. 26, 1916, in Darlington, he was the son of Thomas and Maude Dove (Richey) Gillan; they preceded him in death. He married Roxie Robbins in St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans Oct. 19, 1946; she died Aug. 20, 2007.

He graduated Thorntown High School in 1934, then Central College in 1939 with a degree in music and English. He completed his graduate work at Butler University and later received his doctorate. He had 10 teaching certificates.

He taught school in Sandborn and Thorntown, Roachdale, Williams, Carmel, Huron and for Indianapolis Public Schools, retiring in 1984. He taught music for 11 years, then spent most of the time teaching learning disabled fifth-graders. His greatest accomplishment was that two of those students became doctors.

He served in the U.S. Navy for six years, including during World War II, as a primary flight instructor and later in weather recon and hurricane tracking. In 1973, he received a Valley Forge Freedom Foundation National Teach of the Year Award, the Older Hoosier of the Year Award in 2005 and the Boone County Breeders and Feeders Award in 2004.

He farmed for many years raising grain and registered Angus cattle. He planted his last crop in 2005 at the age of 89.

For many years he was a glider instructor taking his last flight in spring 2009. He was an accomplished artist, having won many awards for his oil painting. His art work hangs in Sugar Creek Arts Center in Thorntown.

He was a member of the Boone County Antique Tractor Association, Boone County Master Gardeners, Lebanon Masonic Lodge No. 9 Scottish Rite, Friends of the Thorntown Library, Thorntown Christian Church, Boone County Genealogical Society, National Soaring Society, Phi Delta Kappa, Sons of the American Revolution, Boone County Amateur Radio Club, Boone County Blue Bird Society, American Legion Post No. 218 Thorntown and Sugar Creek Historical Society.

Survivors include brother Devon Gillan, Taft, Tenn.; sister Janette Holmes, Park Gardens, Fla.; and several nieces and nephews.

He also was preceded in death by brothers Lester and William Gillan and sisters Gladys Thrasher, Mary Joseph and Lois Lance.

Visitation is from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Thorntown Christian Church, 125 W. Main St., with Masonic rites at 7:30 p.m. Services with military graveside rights will be 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the church; the Revs. Glen Jewell and Larry Truitt officiating. Burial will follow at Maple Lawn Cemetery, Thorntown.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sugar Creek Arts Center, 127 S. Pearl St., Thorntown, IN 46071. Russell & Hitch Funeral Home, Thorntown, is handling arrangements.


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