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Forrest LaVerne Gillespie
Forrest LaVerne Gillespie

NEW GLARUS – Forrest LaVerne Gillespie, age 85 of New Glarus, died on Monday, October 28, 2019 at the New Glarus Home. F. LaVerne was born on November 2, 1933 in Nashua Township, Oregon, Ogle County, Illinois to Louise Elizabeth Wiltfang and Forrest William Gillespie.

He attended Daysville One Room School, Oregon Elementary School and graduated from Oregon Community High School in 1951 and obtained his BS degree in 1959 from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He obtained an MS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1971. He was drafted into the US Army in March 1955 and trained in artillery fire direction control. He served nineteen months at Coleman Barracks Germany and was honorably discharged from the US Army Standby Reserve in February 1963.

He married Judithann Janet Colvin on June 14, 1975 in Rockford, Illinois. He was a devoted father to his daughters Deborah Ann Gillespie and Elizabeth Louise Gillespie.

He was employed as a farm laborer, carpenter, farm loan officer, and USDA Cooperative Extension Service in Illinois and Wisconsin before retiring in July 1992. He was recognized for his dedication, enthusiasm, and efforts to share with farm operators, associates and colleagues. He was a pioneer with the application of computer use in agriculture. He strived to explain and teach the why behind each of the factors of input and the relationship to usefulness of the output. He shared in the team process of software development.

He was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Alpha Chapter, an agriculture fraternity, Masonic Lodge, York Rite, Scottish Rite, Shrine and Clown units. Woody the Wood Chopper participated in parades to help raise funds for The Shriners Hospitals for Children. He visited community hospitals and nursing homes. Tracing family origins provided support for his membership in General Society of Mayflower Descendants and The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

He held membership in the church of his choice where he resided through his journey of life.  His final Church was Swiss United Church of Christ, New Glarus, where he served two terms on the consistory. He served on the Finance, Property and Mission Committees. He made four trips to El Salvador with the Swiss Church Mission Project. He supported the All Gods Project as a Clown making animal balloons.

Volunteering was an important part of LaVerne’s life. He developed his volunteer coordination skills during his working career through Leadership Development for the 4H Club Program, Rural Youth, International Youth Exchange and Farm Organizations. After retirement he was a volunteer with Green County Ag Chest, New Glarus Lions, and Habitat for Humanity of Green County. He was a Co Site Supervisor for eleven homes. He was a kind and generous man who had gentle soul and was always there to lend a helping hand.

He is survived by his former wife Judithann, two daughters Deborah Ann (Timothy Woods) Gillespie and Elizabeth Louise (Nate Zack) Gillespie, two sisters Vera Mae Edmonds and Frances Ann Bruns, sister-in-law Margaret Gillespie, and grandchildren Liam and Ethan Woods and Isabella Louise Zack.

He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister Mary Louise Gillespie, brothers Roger Dwight Gillespie, Robert Duane Gillespie, and Ronald Gillespie, and brothers-in-law Maynard Bruns and Gerald Edmonds.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at the New Glarus Home Chapel, 600 Second Ave., New Glarus, WI (access via the Elm Dr. entrance). Inurnment will be in the Swiss Cemetery, New Glarus.

A gathering of relatives and friends will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 1, 2019 at the Zentner-Beal Funeral Home, 29 Sixth Ave., New Glarus, WI with a Masonic service to start the visitation at 4:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in LaVerne’s name to Shrine Hospitals for Children, Habitat for Humanity Green County, or Swiss UCC El Salvador Higher Education Fund.

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