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  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Making his mark

  • Leo Gilmore, who turned 93 on Monday, has definitely made his mark on the world.

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  • Leo Gilmore, who turned 93 on Monday, has definitely made his mark on the world.

    “He’s done a lot of wonderful things and built a pretty terrific family,” said son Dennis Gilmore, Athens, Texas, who attended his father’s birthday party Saturday at Via Christi Village.

    Gilmore was born May 27, 1920, at Chicopee, the son of Charles “Happy” and Alice Gilmore.

    “There were 12 of us children, nine boys and three girls,” Gilmore said. “We all had to work and we all had our jobs. I used to cook dozens of eggs every morning for breakfast. We had a lot of eggs on the farm and we ate a lot of chicken. I remember doing the washing out of an old tub with a scrubbing board because our mother had to take care of the children.”

    He and his siblings also spent a lot of the summer baling hay.

    At 17 Gilmore went into the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and was sent to Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State for three months, then spent the next three months at Shenandoah.

    He and his late wife, Maxine, were married in 1941.

    “I worked in the coal mine for a year, then I quit after my oldest son, Ronald, was born, then I went to work at the Army Ammunition Plant in Parsons,” Gilmore said.

    He was called up for the military in 1942 and went into the U.S. Air Force, undergoing training at Amarillo, Texas, Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Diego, Calif., before being assigned to Alamagordo, N.M., to work on B-24 bombers.He was later sent overseas.

    “We started to go to Africa, then they decided to send the unit to Naples, Italy,” Gilmore said. “We were mechanics. We stayed on the ground and kept the bombers flying.”

    He spent 18 months in Italy before the war was over. The plane he worked on was the only one in the squadron that flew all the missions and was still in good shape at the end of the war.

    Page 2 of 2 - After the war, Gilmore went to college with the help of the GI Bill and earned his teaching certification. That was a bit tricky, since he hadn’t actually graduated from high school.

    “I finished my high school work and got both diplomas at the same time,” Gilmore said.

    “To me, that’s probably one of his greatest achievements,” his son Dennis said. “He was the first one in the family to graduate from college.”

    His father got a job teaching in Mindenmines, Mo., but gave it up when son Ronald wanted to go back to school at St. Mary’s in Pittsburg. The devout youngster grew up to enter the priesthood and served as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita until his retirement.

    Gilmore did carpentry work for around 60 years, building custom homes in the area.

    “We’ve figured up that there are probably around 130 houses that he build which are still standing in the area,” Dennis Gilmore said.

    Gilmore and his wife had four sons. They are Dennis Gilmore of Athens, Texas, Bishop Emeritus Ronald Gilmore of Dodge City, Richard Gilmore of Atlanta, Ga., and Leo Alan Gilmore of Houston, Texas. There are five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He also still has five siblings surviving.

    “Our mother lived to be 99,” Gilmore said. “Our dad died at 59 from a heart attack.”

    His wife died in January of 2005.

    “She was sick for 10 years and I took care of her,” Gilmore said. “When she came to Via Christi, she wouldn’t eat for the nurses, so I came every day and fed her.”

    He has been at Via Christi Village, which is about five years from his childhood home, for several years now. In between the two, Gilmore has been a lot of other places and, as his son said, done a lot of wonderful things.

    “I’ve seen a lot of history,” Gilmore said.

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