William Dryden Gilmer, 91, passed away on March 6, 2019, at Addington Place, in Brunswick, Ga. Born on July 17, 1927, to William Russell and Stella Dryden Gilmer in the mountains of Kingsport, Tenn., he grew up relishing the outdoor hill life and the love and laughter of his family and friends.
After leaving the U.S. Navy in 1945, he attended Duke University earning a B.A. and a master’s degree in forestry. While a student there he met and married the lovely Carlene Kearns, of High Point, N.C. The couple moved to Brunswick in 1951, where he began his career at Brunswick Pulp and Paper Co. Over his years in forestry, he did everything from cruising timber to consulting on the creation of industry equipment.
He was a member of more than 50 years at College Place Methodist Church, where he served on committees, taught Sunday School classes and was master of ceremonies of fellowship events. An Eagle Scout himself, he highly supported the Boy Scouts of America and served for many years as scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 266, sponsored by the church. A point of pride was seeing a son and grandson follow his steps in becoming Eagle Scouts as well.
A consummate storyteller, he also had a natural talent for music, learning to play the banjo and fiddle from an old Appalachian mountaineer named Claude Greer. In the 1980s, he formed “The Good Times Band” with long-time friend Bob Wendel. For many years the band entertained and educated school groups about mountain music and instruments and performed at area events. In 1964, he and Bob Wendel started caroling to shut-ins on Christmas Eve, a tradition that both families continue to carry on to this day.
Retirement was spent at a cabin fondly called the Briar Patch, which he and Carlene built, and where they loved entertaining visitors in the North Carolina mountains. He knew he was among his kind when after meeting the locals and letting them get a taste of what they were up against, one fruitlessly searched for positives in Bill before politely declaring, “I like you, Bill. You got a good-shaped head.”
For the past dozen years Carlene has suffered from Alzheimer’s. He lovingly cared for her on his own until the last few years, when he moved into Memory Care living with her at Addington Place. He would not be parted from his bride.
He is survived by his lovely wife of 67 years, Carlene; his four children, Cindy Norman (Kerry), Tad Gilmer (Kathy), Debi Zamoscinski (Gino) and Chuck Gilmer (Leigh); seven grandchildren, Kelly St. Louis (Robby), Lindsay Layton (Jordan), Katie Gilmer, Lauryn Gilmer, Bill Gilmer, Gil Zamoscinski and Emma Zamoscinski; and four great-grand-kids, Dryden St. Louis, Leo St. Louis, Jude Layton and Hattie Layton.
The mountains he loved so much have called him home and that is where he will be laid to rest.
A memorial service will be held 2 p.m., Monday, March 11, 2019, in the chapel of Edo Miller and Sons Funeral Home. Family will visit with friends following the service.
Memorial contributions may be made in honor of Bill to the Glynn County Boy Scout Organization or the Alzheimer’s Association. Arrangements are entrusted with Edo Miller and Sons Funeral Home, www.edomillerandsons.com.