Cover photo for Allen Gilson's Obituary
Allen Gilson Profile Photo

Allen Gilson

d. January 11, 2021

Allen Steve Gilson, 82,  of Cottonwood, AZ, passed away January 11, 2021, due to complications of Covid-19. His wife, Regina, was able to be with him- a rare occurrence during this pandemic.

Allen was born in 1938, Guthrie Center, Iowa to parents George & Martha Gilson. A brother, John, joined the family a year later. Martha died in 1944 and George remarried Opal Jansen who adopted Allen & John. He was a member of the GCHS Class of ‘56, after which, he pursued carpentry as an apprentice, following in his Quaker Grandfather’s tradition. In 1966, John joined him in the formation of Gilson Construction. Allen was also a member of the Iowa National Guard, enlisting in 1957 and retiring as a full Colonel.

Al listed his military service in the National Guard both as work and recreation because he “really enjoyed it.” He considered service not as a duty but as a privilege.

Class of ‘56, Guthrie Center High School, Iowa, There are several Urban Myths implicating Al during his high school career. Typically, when questioned as to their veracity, Al would smile but neither confirm nor deny details of the stories.

Al is survived by his wife of 58 years, Regina (Schrader), his three children, and five grandchildren: Michelle Blackler, Mark Gilson and his wife Halina, their sons Andrew, Sam, and David, and Clementine Karl Musser [nee Kelly Gilson] and her husband David, and their children Dashiell and Alexandra.

Al was involved in Building,  Construction & Project Management his whole life, including Gilson Construction 1966-81, Building & Grounds Engineer for The State of Iowa, Camp Dodge, Johnston, IA, 1981-2003, and  volunteer projects for Friends of the Forest, Coconino National Forest, Sedona, AZ, 2004-2020.

Al converted to catholicism when he and Regina married and he supported the parishes where he was a member with his expertise including designing and building the St. Mary’s Parish Hall in 1973, and acting on the building committee for Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Cottonwood, AZ. He was active with the Knights of Columbus.

“Al was a beautiful man and good friend to us all. He was always so willing to engage in a new project and never turned down a request to lend a hand. He was one of the bright stars in the volunteer world. We were lucky to cross paths with Al and share so many years with him. 

I am remembering Al with a tool belt around his waist, warm big smile and a hand ready to help.” Justin Loxley, Coconino National Forest, Flagstaff Ranger District

Al had many hobbies during his life. He loved flying and followed both his parents’ example of obtaining his pilot’s license in 1977, an instrument rating in 1983, multi-engine and high performance aircraft with retractable gear rating  in 1987. Al purchased a Grumman Cheetah airplane in 1978. He was a keen runner and competed in 7 Marathons before his hamstrings required retirement. He loved deer hunting and waterskiing in his youth. But his lifelong pursuit was as a craftsman: creating, restoring, designing. He built his family home on Cameron Drive, Guthrie Center from a drawing in a magazine.

The legacy left by Allen Gilson will be the homes, buildings, conservation projects made with his own hands, skill and care for those who are children today and perhaps by their children in the tomorrows of this world. He was an extraordinary, quiet, humble man.

At Ease, Sir. Rest In Peace.


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