Sept. 26, 1937 — March 2, 2019
At 81, John was a vital, intelligent man. He sat in his favorite chair, and suddenly slipped away to join his loved-ones who had passed. It was his time, even though we didn’t want to let him go.
John was born in Prosser, Wash., to Josephine and Harold Gilkey. At age 6, the Gilkey family moved to Longview. This was home. Following John’s graduation from R.A. Long High School in 1956, he enlisted in the Army for three years (1956-1959). He was trained as a field radio electrician and sent to Germany during the Cold War.
John’s civilian career started at Western Electric in Seattle in 1961. Remember dial phones? As a technician, he tested and troubleshot phone equipment. With the breakup of AT&T in 1984, the company was acquired by larger companies. John was transferred to San Leandro, Calif., where he completed an AT&T New Technology Electronics Course, then to Memphis, Tenn. He retired from AT&T in 1992 with 31 years of service.
John returned to Washington, establishing residence in Vancouver (close to Portland and family in Longview). From here he could hop in his car and drive to Long Beach, car shows, summer fairs, and flower and garden shows. John also visited many sites across the U.S. His favorite place was the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. He was country to the bone; his soul exuded western music, primarily from the 50’s and 60’s. John’s country roots were also nourished on the family farm, Melody Ranch, on Niemi Road. This was a place to relish in his love for nature, the seasons (Autumn his favorite), and the growth of living things. John delighted in growing flowers and teaching this passion to others.
Throughout his life, John stayed true to himself. He was a private person, reserved, kind, caring, and generous. John was totally devoted to family and friends, always dependable and trustworthy. He was always there with a quick smile and fun sense of humor.
John is survived by family members, Tom (life partner Elaine), Doug (Gui), Lorene (Kurt), and Berna; and his nieces and nephews, Anna Maria, Harold, Rhonna, Krystal, Steven.
A graveside service is planned for 2 p.m. Thursday at Longview Memorial Park, 5050 Mt. Solo Road.
“Dear John, You made the world a better place. We will treasure our memories of you, until we meet again.”