GARDINER - Ralph Edward "Spike" Gilson Jr. passed away on Jan. 5, 2014, with his family by his side.
He was born in Gardiner on May 20, 1931, to the late Ralph and Ella (Crocker) Gilson.
He graduated from Gardiner Area High School in 1950. He lettered in football and ice hockey. His favorite sport was ice hockey. He was the goalie. When he would get together with his sister and brother, the conversations were always about Gardiner sports, Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and his favorite team, the Bruins.
He served in the Air Force from 1952 to 1956. He was deployed to Korea, and he was a cook. He loved to cook and passed this knowledge on to the next generations of his family.
He worked at the Gardiner Paper Mill, at Top Gas, as a custodian at area dentist and doctor offices, and for Sid Porter driving cars; and he retired from the Togus veterans' hospital on Jan. 3, 1992. After retirement, he worked in the Gorham schools as a foster grandparent under the PROP program and for the Barron Center in Portland, where he retired again.
He was very proud to be a member of the American Legion Post 4 in Gardiner. He ran the bingo for 28 years. He served as commander (1995-1996) and service officer. He was very involved in providing coats and boots for children. When funding was low, he used his money to cover the cost. He coached the American Legion baseball team.
He leaves behind his daughters, Marie Vellani and her friend, Paul Clark Jr., of Gorham, Tammy and Fred Robinson, of Gorham, and Karen and Mark Witham, of Monroe; also the mother of his daughters, Leslie Bowman; his sister, Mary (Gilson) Sergent, of Winthrop; brother David Gilson, of Farmingdale; his stepchildren, Joel Welch and his wife, Joanne, Michael Welch and his partner, Boon Moors, and Jamie Vellani and her partner, Larry Lawrence; his grandchildren, Don Vellani II and his fiancee, Megan Shaw, Kristina Vellani, Christopher Robinson and his wife, Amanda, Brian Robertson and his wife, Nicole, and Hannah Witham; foster grandchildren Trisha Allen and her husband, Will, Diana LaMontage and Kate Holland; his great-grandchildren, Ean and Jackson Larson, and Eimille Robinson; foster great-grandchildren McKenzie and Kaitlyn Allen; and special nieces and nephews of Uncle Spike, Margaret Dumond, of Winthrop, Roxanne Caswell, of Pittson, Dorothy Hinckley, of Pittston, Raymond Sergent Jr., of Augusta, Gail Williams, of Gardiner, Michael Gilson, of Farmingdale, and Audrey St. Pierre, of Chelsea. He made such a difference in their lives. He is also survived by many other extended family members and friends.
He is predeceased by his brother-in-law, Raymond Sergent Sr.; sister-in-law Susan Gilson; and mother of his stepchildren, Joyce Welch Gilson.
He will always be remembered for being the organizer and cook of "The" Family Camping Trip to New Hampshire.
A graveside service will be at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 4, at Oak Grove Cemetery in Gardiner. Mark Witham, his son-in-law, will be the officiant. A celebration of his life will follow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Gardiner Sportsmen's Club. Please come and join the family and share the wonderful stories of Spike.
Arrangements are under the direction of Staples Funeral Home in Gardiner. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Gardiner Area High School All Sports Boosters, c/o Steve Ouellette, athletic director, 40 West Hill Road, Gardiner, ME 04345.