William Emerson Gilmour, 89, died peacefully surrounded by his family on Wednesday, February 8, 2012.
Bill was born January 31, 1923 in Arlington to the late Charlotte (Barnes) and Arthur Gilmour.
He graduated from Mt. Herman Prep School, and then attended Bates College until he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp in 1942. He was assigned to the Radar Training course, and then became a Counter Measure Specialist flying with the 8th Air Force.
Bill was supposed to fly 23 missions and then return to the states to train others. On what would have been his last mission, the plane Bill was in was shot down. Bill had to secure the Counter Measure equipment before bailing out of the plane, which required him to stay behind after the rest of the crew bailed out. Bill landed on a building in downtown Berlin, thereby becoming a proud member of the Caterpillar Club, a group of men whose life was saved by a silk caterpillar.
Bill was a prisoner of war in Austria for 13 months, and was released at the end of the war by General Patten’s army. He served during World War II as a Technical Sergeant and was the recipient of the Purple Heart.
Returning to the U.S., he enrolled in Bowdoin College in Maine. One Homecoming Weekend, he met a lovely Bates College student named Ruth Hancock from Martha’s Vineyard. He graduated from Bowdoin College with an AB degree in Math and Physics, and he and Ruth were married in the summer of 1949. Bill and Ruth moved back to Massachusetts, where he worked for Raytheon Corporation for many, many years prior to his retirement.
Bill was very involved with his church (Trinitarian Congregational Church of Wayland), and he was an on-call member of the Wayland Fire Department. He loved to play and referee hockey, and he umpired softball games. He developed the radio room and sound system for his church, enabling the broadcast of many sermons over the years on several radio stations. Bill was a lifetime member of the Saturday Morning Saints at T.C.C.
Bill is survived by his three daughters and their husbands: Jill and David Johnstone of Ashland, Betsy and Bill Ramsey of Wayland, and Nancy and Kevin Quinn of Northborough; his grandchildren: Greg Ramsey and Heather Diskin, Ben and Nisa Ramsey, Karen and Brad Milioto, Kim and Kevin Kelley, Heather Johnstone, Jeremy Johnstone, Cullen Quinn, and Kayleigh Quinn and Alex Petruska. He was the brother –in-law of Dr. Charles F. Phillips Jr. and Marjorie Hancock Phillips of Lexington, Va., and he also leaves several nieces and nephews. In addition, he will be sorely missed by his sheltie, Artie, and several grand and great-grand dogs.
Visitation was held on Tuesday, February 14 at the John C. Bryant Funeral Home, 56 Pemberton Road, Wayland.
Interment was on Wednesday, February 15 at the Gilmour-Hancock family lot in Abel’s Hill Cemetery, South Road, Chilmark.
A Memorial Service celebrating Bill’s life will be held on Saturday, February 18, at 11 am at the Trinitarian Congregational Church, 52 Cochituate Rd (Route 27), Wayland.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay, 139 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142. Bill was ever grateful for how the Red Cross fed him during the time he was a prisoner of war.