ATASCADERO — Gilbert Williams, 95, of Atascadero died peacefully and joyfully and surrounded by family and friends on Dec. 3, 2012.
Until recently he was able to enjoy each day in the house he built on the hill, reclined in his favorite chair.
Gil grew up in a small Missouri farm town where he learned to hunt, fish and enjoy fresh fruit picked from trees. When the local coal mines shut down, his family moved to Chicago where he worked after school as a delivery boy for a small meat market. As he grew and mastered the skills of meat cutting, Gil’s interest in the grocery business led him to full time employment with Jewel Tea Company upon his graduation from high school.
In addition to fishing and hunting, Gil liked to bowl, and he often competed in team sports with his brothers and their friends. He drove “fast” cars and discovered the public library was a place to improve his social life as well as his mind. Soon he met Doris, who became his wife in 1940. They recently celebrated their 72nd anniversary when a friend asked Doris if she ever thought of divorce. After some thought, with a sweet smile and a twinkle in her eyes, Doris replied, “Divorce — Never, but murder — Yes!”
Gil was one of Jewel stores’ most successful young meat market managers until 1944 when he was drafted into the Army, 1st Calvary Division, H Troop, 8th Regiment. He participated in the campaign for Luzon and helped liberate American and Filipino prisoners of war. When the fighting stopped, Gil’s grocery career led to his assignment as a Mess Sergeant in Tokyo, feeding 200 men three meals a day during the occupation of Japan.
Returning to Doris, his daughter, Susan, and his work in the grocery business in 1946, Gil was selected to train as a store manager for Jewel. By the end of the 1950s Gil was managing the most profitable Jewel stores and spent his days off working around his house, volunteering in the community or hunting and fishing with his friends. In 1958 he was one of 12 grocers recognized for his civic service by The National Association of Food Chains in Washington, D.C.
Gil and his family moved to California in 1963 and decided Atascadero offered the ideal opportunity to build a new life. After a few years of construction work, including his family’s “Dream Home,” Gil returned to the grocery business managing a new store for Purity Markets in Paso Robles. Gil’s dream of owning a store some day, became a reality when he and his partner bought and successfully operated Los Osos Valley Market next to Carlock’s Bakery in Los Osos.
During these years Gil continued to enjoy his annual trips to Saskatchewan for the finest Walleye (Perch Family) fishing in cold water so clear the fish could be seen as they came up to take the bait. Doris loved to fish, too. Together with some help from their friends, Doris and Gil constructed a very comfortable log cabin in the wilderness on land leased in a provincial park. For numerous years, until the long distance drive grew too difficult, the idyllic summers ended with a well-attended fish fry back home.
Gil was active in his retirement making his own sausage, constructing projects in his garage workshop and doing yard work. He loved to read anything written by Louis L’Amour. He regularly attended church services and Sunday school at Atascadero Bible Church where he demonstrated the musical traditions of his Welsh heritage by singing all hymns with enthusiasm. He lived what was important to him by loving God, working hard and with honesty every day, helping others in their needs, and he loved America. Gil loved God, his family and his country. His life was one well lived.
Gil is survived by his loving wife, Doris; daughter, Susan; and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10 in room 102 at Atascadero Bible Church, 6225 Atascadero Mall.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Gil’s honor to Atascadero Bible Church, P.O. Box 987, Atascadero, CA 93423, to the account for Boris and Senka.
For the complete article see the 12-07-2012 issue.
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