In Memory of:
Raymond P. Gillman
The riches "Rags" left us all
Any man's death diminishes me,
When the bells tolled for Chief Raymond P. Gillman on June 11, they truly tolled for all of us.
"Rags" left a legacy of riches to all who knew him:
To his wife Betty, he left the warm memories of 10 years of marriage.
To the sailors who served under him, he imparted a striving for excellence, a sense of responsibility, a belief in self-discipline and a legacy of respect so strong that to this day many of the "scope dopes" that served with and under Ray Gillman still refer to him simply as "The Chief".
To our association, Ray left an enormous legacy: His research in tracking down Pyro sailors who go down to the sea no more has given our group dozens of new members and decades—perhaps scores—of additional years of vitality to combat the inevitable attrition of demographics.
Ray Gillman never did anything halfway. If he had a fault, it was loving too well, never loving too little.
He loved Betty with a gentle fierceness, soft in voice, but strong in spirit.
He loved his country as a father loves a child: With an unwavering affection that overcame vocal anger at its foibles. And he loved the Navy, filled with earned pride in the contribution he made to his country and his service.
His relationship with our association was also paternal. And when "father knew best", but the "kids" didn't listen, Ray fought hard to persuade, but never let his pique at perceived misdeeds alter his affection or high hopes for his shipmates and our group.
Ray fancied himself a "hard ass". He often played that role to Academy Award standards. But not far beneath the veneer of the hard-bitten chief, an impish grin and a twinkle in his steely grey eyes told those who cared to see that Ray was really a softie at heart. He always had time for a kind word, a knowing wink and those small acts of friendship and affection that recall the best of our days on Naval service and define the true meaning of the word "gentleman".
We'll all miss him.
But the hard edge our sorrow at his passing is somewhat softened by thoughts of the benefits Ray brings to his new duty station.
Because if Heaven needs a new coat of paint or the angels are getting a bit lax in performing their celestial duties, the Guy in Charge has just the man to put things in shipshape order: Chief Petty Officer Raymond P. Gillman, USN.
by Jim Smiley (www.jimsmiley.net)