Gilman R. Carlson Jr.

Jan 16, 2014
Gilman R. Carlson Jr.

Camden — Gilman Regenous Carlson, a Cold-War U.S. Navy submarine commander, died on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, at Quarry Hill in Camden, of Parkinsonism. He was 78.

Born July 14, 1935, to Eva and Gilman Carlson in Scottsbluff, Neb. Gil, the only son, was the youngest of four children. He graduated from high school in Dawson, Minn., in 1953, and went on to pursue a bachelor's degree in education from St. Cloud State, class of '57. There he met Mary Nordlie, the woman with whom he would share the rest of his life. The couple wed June 9, 1958. Following a brief period teaching high school industrial arts, Gil embarked on a military path. His father, himself a World War I infantry veteran, had advised him to opt for the U. S. Navy citing among other things, the superior food and lack of trench warfare. Gil attended Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. He was commissioned in November 1958 as an ensign in the U.S. Navy and first served as a weapons instructor, based in Albuquerque, N.M. Submarine school in New London, Conn., would follow, from which he would graduate in June 1961.

A 20-year military career would bring with it many changes of locale and opportunities to live abroad in Spain and England. Gil's first submarine duty was as navigator aboard the U.S.S. Spinax, SS 489. He served aboard the U.S.S. Patrick Henry, SSBN 599; was Executive Officer on U.S.S. Sea Robin, SS 407; and Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Jallao, SS 368. Gil served as Executive Officer aboard the submarine tender U.S.S. Simon Lake, AS 33. Gil was highly admired by his crew members for his steady and fair treatment and for the high standard he set. Gil's shore duty assignments included Communications Officer, Naval Communications Unit, in London, England. He received the Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and Meritorious Unit Commendation. He retired from the U.S. Navy in September 1978 as a Commander.

Upon retiring, Gil and family moved to Annapolis, Md. With his expertise in the area of communications, he entered civilian life as a Project Engineer at the Science Applications Intl. Corp. in D.C. In this capacity, he served as a consultant to the government, notably the F.A.A., assisting in the development of systems utilizing microwave technology for the guidance and landing of planes.

Gil retired in September 2004. At this point, the couple lived in Rappahannock, Va., where Mary ran a bed and breakfast in their charming Victorian farmhouse. Gil derived much pleasure and satisfaction in the maintenance and improvement of the home and grounds as well as woodworking in his state-of-the-art workshop. A consummate craftsman and engineer, Gil also used these talents volunteering at the high school attended by his two local granddaughters. He was a substitute teacher, and assisted in the Vo-Tech Department.

In late fall 2005, Gil and Mary moved to Camden. It was here that Gil's craftsmanship, combined with his passion for sailing and ships, culminated in his focus on the crafting of several museum-quality ship models. Many were donated to local institutions, such as the Camden Public Library, and the Sail, Power, and Steam Museum in Rockland. While living in Camden, he again enjoyed many sailing opportunities.

2007 brought with it one of the largest tragedies to befall the Carlson family, when his granddaughter Emily Jane Hilscher was killed in the Virginia Tech shootings. Gil had a very strong bond with his granddaughter and her loss is keenly felt by the family.

A generous and gentle man, Gil was also a loving and devoted husband and father, who took great pride in his family. A quiet yet deep commitment to his Catholic faith anchored him. Gil was always excited by a project, and helping others with their projects gave him great satisfaction. He was a man who did not do things by half-measures.

Those left to cherish Gil's memory are his wife Mary; daughters Elizabeth Hilscher and husband Eric and Paula Saddler and husband Bryan; son, Jonathan Carlson and his companion Jenny Dow; grandchildren Erica Garvey and her husband Jed, Teresa Saddler, and Declan Carlson; great-grandson Hayden Garvey. Beloved granddaughter Emily Jane Hilscher predeceased her "Gramps." He is also survived by two sisters, Evelyn Czaia and Violet Woolington. Sister Gladys Osmundson passed in 2002.

Family members are planning a private celebration at sea of Gil's life this spring.

Memorial gifts may be directed to: Quarry Hill Improvement Fund: Administration Office, 30 Community Dr., Camden, ME 04843. His family is very grateful to the staff at Quarry Hill for their compassionate care.

Condolences may be shared with the Carlson family at Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 9 Mountain St., Camden.

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