Thelma Gillespie was born on Thanksgiving Day and what a blessing she was to her family. She was nearly 102 years old when she went to be with the Lord on October 18th. Thelma grew up in Fresno, Ca. and went to Pepperdine College for almost 4 years in Los Angeles. After college, she became an airline stewardess for United Airlines. She was among the early generation of stewardess’s to be hired. Thelma always felt she was helping to build an airline in the 1940’s. She flew for 8 years mostly in DC-3’s around the west coast and several times to Japan. She even flew into Salem, Oregon!
Thelma later married Norvell Gillespie, the love of her life, and they lived in Berkeley, Ca. She was widowed after only 20 years of marriage and so she went back to work. She took a position as House Director at Pi Phi Sorority for 9 years.
She was also a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley and volunteered by working in the church office. Not one to sit around, Thelma took up artwork and painting in oils as a serious hobby. She became highly skilled and created dozens of marvelous oil paintings during her lifetime. Her paintings won many ribbons in the El Cerrito Art Association art shows.
Eventually, Thelma moved to Oregon and lived in Salem with her daughter Terry and family. Her last 15 years were lived at the Avamere Retirement village in Keizer, Or. She and Terry continued a close relationship and spent much time together. They regularly attended Athey Creek Christian Fellowship which was some distance away. When it became too hard to travel, they were able to continue watching and listening to bible teaching “on-line.” Thelma continued to grow in faith spiritually and to gain greater knowledge about Jesus. How incredibly thankful both she and Terry were for the Lord’s promise of eternal life.
Thelma is survived by her daughter Terry (Gillespie) Evert and granddaughter, Kelsey (Evert) Pantovich, grandson-in-law Josh Pantovich, grandsons Colin Evert and Cory Evert, and step-granddaughter Melissa (Evert) Braun. She was greatly loved by her family and was affectionately known as G’Ma. She will be greatly missed. Thelma’s final resting place is City View Cemetery in Salem, OR.