Lt. Col. Donald L.  Gilleland

Obituary of Lt. Col. Donald L. Gilleland

Melbourne, FL- Donald L. Gilleland, 87, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, went to be with the Lord on September 14, 2023.

Gilleland was born in Alton, IL. As a young man, he was a long-distance runner, and in mid-life he became a competitive racquetball player.

He was married for 60 years to the former Peggy Chaffee, of Worcester, MA, whom he met at Southern Illinois University in 1956. Peggy was the love of his life! She was his very best friend, his lifelong partner, and made him laugh more than anyone else could. Peggy went to be with the Lord on December 28, 2018.

Gilleland earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in public relations from Boston University, Gilleland served 30 years in the military; eight years enlisted in the US Navy and 22 years commissioned in the US Air Force.

During his military career, Gilleland served with the Joint Casualty Resolution Center, accompanying search and recovery teams throughout South Vietnam, locating, exhuming, and repatriating remains of servicemen who had died in combat, but whose bodies had never been recovered. He was also a member of the five-man planning staff that created the National Defense University at Ft. McNair in Washington DC. Donald received the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Humanitarian Service Medal.

Gilleland retired from the Air Force in 1984 as chief of Air Force Public Affairs Western Region, where he coordinated Air Force cooperation with the movie and TV industry. He was instrumental in creating the 1984 ABC television series “Call to Glory”. Until 1987, Donald worked for the LTV Aerospace and Defense Company as Director of Public Relations and Advertising, for its AM General Division in South Bend, Indiana. From 1987 to 1994 he worked for General Dynamics Corporation, where he retired as Corporate Director of Public Affairs. Donald wrote a history of the General Dynamics Corporation and its predecessor companies covering operations from 1851 to 1997, and a series of articles on the manufacture of Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines.

Gilleland was a published author. His six published books include America: A Cultural Enigma, America: Where Great Things Happen, America: An Exceptional Nation, America: A Conflicted Nation, Stars, Stripes and Corporate Logos, and Watching My Wife Die-A Christian Perspective on Grieving. Donald was a frequent contributor to Florida Today, TC Palm, and Vero’s Voice publications. He loved to write and had over 600 articles published in a variety of nationally and internationally circulated magazines and newspapers.

Gilleland lived in Suntree, FL from 1994 until his death. He was a devout Christian who enjoyed serving as an usher at the Calvary Chapel Melbourne/Viera church, hugging hundreds of people every week. His favorite reference and guiding principal were WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?

Gilleland is survived by his brother Richard and spouse Denise Gilleland of Moriarty, NM, nieces Stephanie Hendersen of Friant, CA, Carol Bock and spouse Denise Callahan of Alton, IL, nephews Seth, and spouse Jessica Gilleland of Honolulu, HI, Joel Gilleland of Albuquerque, NM, Frank Bock Jr. and spouse Sandi Middleton, of Alton, IL, Gregory Bock and spouse Laura of Alton, IL, Douglas Bock and spouse Thomas Krygowski of Palm Springs, CA, Vincent and spouse Judith Zike of Jupiter, FL, Ernest and spouse Barbara Zike of Richmond, VA, Joseph and spouse Joan Zike of Griswold, CT. Donald is also survived by many great-nieces and nephews. Donald was predeceased by his wife Margaret “Peggy” Gilleland, mother Josephine Gilleland, father Orval Gilleland, and sisters Carol Sue Gilleland, Mary Jo Bock, and Patricia Bondoc.

Gilleland will be cremated, after which his ashes will reside in a columbarium in Arlington National Cemetery, along with those of his wife.

A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. on November 1st at Calvary Chapel Viera Campus on Stadium Parkway.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in Don’s name to The Creative Arts Foundation of Brevard, PO BOX 410324, Melbourne, FL 32941

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