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Charles Wesley Gillingham



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Charles Wesley Gillingham

Perfected Optics For Hubbell Space Telescope

Charles Wesley “Wes” Gillingham, formerly of Newtown, died in his sleep, at the home of his son Robert W. Gillingham, in Knoxville, Tenn., on the morning of May 24. He was born September 3, 1922, into the family of Emily and Charles Gillingham and his older sister, Frances Elvira.

In 1945 he married his beloved wife, Beatrice, at the Long Beach Naval Yard chapel, before departing to China aboard the USS Kermit Roosevelt to serve his country in the naval operations during World War II.

After the end of the war he started his family in Nassau County, N.Y., where he played semi-pro football for the Hollis Royals, was a president of his town’s fire department, and a Little League coach.

In 1967, the Gillinghams moved to Newtown, where he worked for Perkin Elmer in Danbury, perfecting the optics for the Hubbell space telescope. He and his wife were very active members of Trinity Episcopal Church, where he served in every way possible as a layperson.

He volunteered for many Newtown groups over the years, including FISH, ARC, and Little League. His passion came through in his longtime position on the Inland Wetlands Commission, and the years volunteering as president and board member of the Newtown Forest Association, preserving and protecting the town he loved.

In a statement sent to The Newtown Bee, June 1, Newtown Forest Association board members recalled Mr Gillingham’s service to the organization. “Wes joined the NFA board in May of 1994 and has been a valuable resource for all board members ever since… During his tenure on the board he has been an important part of the tremendous growth of the organization. Together with his favorite dog, Wes spent many hours visiting and monitoring the many NFA properties in town… Wes particularly enjoyed Hattertown Pond and was our expert on that property.” After relocating to New York and then Tennessee to be closer to family, his insight and field knowledge was sorely missed by the NFA. “On behalf of the entire NFA board, we would like to recognize Wes for his service to the Newtown Forest Association and the Town of Newtown over these many years,” concluded the statement.

Mr Gillingham was known for his devotion to his wife and her pies, along with his love of animals, especially Alaskan Malamutes. His compassion for animals went beyond dogs to include cats, rabbits, ducks, cows, and basically any creature that would take a treat from his hand.

He had a love for the outdoors, teaching his sons hunting and fishing. He loved fishing trips for stripers and blues, duck hunting with his buddies, and the many weekends at the family property in the Catskill Mountains.

 His life was marked with service to others. He loved his family, his town, and his friends. He thought there was nothing better than cocktails, and cheese and crackers with friends — as long as there were treats for his dog, Tammy. The woods between his house on Hundred Acres Road and Hattertown Pond will miss his footprints.

 His son Robert of Tennessee; his son Wes, and wife Amy, of Livingston Manor, N.Y.; and daughter-in-law Nancy; three grandchildren; and other relatives survive him. His wife predeceased him in 1991, as did a son, Wayne, this past October; and sister, Frances, May 10.

A family service will take place at the Village Cemetery, Newtown, Friday, June 10, at 2:30 pm. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, June 11, at 1 pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown.

Memorial donations may be made to The Newtown Forest Association, PO Box 213, Newtown CT 06470.

The Newtown Bee        June 3, 2011

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