In Memoriam – Col. (ret.) Charles Allan Gillis

(My mother wrote this beautiful obituary of for my father, and I wanted to share)

Col. (ret.) Charles Allan Gillis
November 11, 1929-December 30, 2017

Col. (ret.) Charles A. Gillis (Chuck) was born November 11, 1929 in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he attended St. Mary’s Elementary School. (As did Mary K. Schmidt whom he eventually married. His one recollection of her was at a dance class in which the instructor made him dance with her. He says that not only did she have frizzy black hair, she was FAT.)

He went away to high school in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and the Admiral Ballard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He was accepted at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, where he graduated in June, 1951 as a “distinguished military graduate” which earned him an automatic appointment as a second lieutenant in the US Army. He had extensive training in the Army including the US Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, KS and the US Army War College in Carlisle, PA. He majored in International Politics at Tulane, University.

His first duty assignment was with the 112th Infantry Battalion at Wharton Barracks, Heilbronn, Germany. He was transferred to the “Old Guard” 3rd Infantry Regiment, Fort Myer, VA in January, 1955. There he was in charge of many burial ceremonies. A high light of his time at Fort Myer was when he was selected to model the proposed new Army uniform for President Eisenhower in the Oval Office. For the next three years he served at Fort Benning, GA where he underwent Special Forces training and earned his jump wings.

In January, 1959 he transferred to the 8th Army in Korea. After a one year tour, he was assigned to Fort Campbell, KY, where he served in the 101st Airborne Division. In August, 1962, he attended the Command and General Staff College, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. After his student year, he was assigned as an instructor in the Department of Joint, Combined, and Special Operations at the college for three years.

In 1966, he was sent to Vietnam where he was the CO, of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry. Following the tour in Vietnam he was sent to Tulane University in New Orleans to study International Politics. Before completing his degree in International Politics, he was selected for the Army War College in Carlisle, PA and graduated in the class of 1969. Chuck spent the next two years at the Pentagon in the Office of the Army Chief of Staff.

In July of 1973, he was sent to Iran as an advisor to the Iranian Army. Twice he was invited to dinners at the summer palace of the Shah of Iran where he and a fellow officer water skied with the Shah’s wife. He returned to the Pentagon the following year. Chuck ended his Army career as Executive to the Director of Operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff for two years. His decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit (3 awards), Presidential Unit Citation, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Senior Parachute Badge.

In January, 1977 Chuck retired from the Army to take a position at Amtrak. From February, 1978 to June, 1978 he was a senior cost & budget manager. He became a Manager of Administrative Services, Corporate Admin Salary Administrator, Administrator of Employee Performance Salary Program, Administrator of Corporate Compensation, and manager of Compensation. From July 1985 to December 1992 he was Director of Leadership/Management Development. Chuck was proud of what he accomplished at Amtrak and dutifully served the organization. However, he was always a soldier at heart.

Chuck was married. Near the end of his college career, he was home for the summer and had broken up with his girlfriend. He was looking for a date. He discovered that the black fizzy-haired, fat girl he had to dance with in sixth grade had tamed her hair and slimmed down. So he asked her to marry him. This past June, he and Mary K. celebrated their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary with their family of six children, three grandsons, an adorable great-grand daughter, two sons-in-law, grandson Josh’s wife, and grandson Ellory’s girlfriend.

The last few weeks of Chuck’s life his speech was severely impaired. Once when he was obviously trying to speak to the nurse, she removed the oxygen mask for a few seconds and he was able to tell her that he had a wonderful family. What a priceless memory for them.
Chuck will be buried at Arlington Cemetery. Date to be determined.