Leonard B. Gilley ’51

Leonard B. Gilley ’51 died on December 20, 2016, in Portland, Maine.

(The following was published in the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Jan. 5, 2017:)

Leonard Bragdon Gilley, Ph.D., died peacefully on Dec. 20, 2016 in Portland, at the age of 87.

Gilley was born on Feb. 28, 1929, in Southwest Harbor. He graduated from Pemetic High School in Southwest Harbor and earned a B.A. degree in government in 1951 from Bowdoin College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Fraternity. Gilley served in the United States Army during the Korean War from 1952 to 1954. In 1952, while stationed in Munich, Germany, he was selected for the Seventh Army’s Non-Commissioned Officers Academy and was awarded Number 1 Honor Graduate of 154 members in the six-week leadership course. Gilley was honorably discharged with commendations at the rank of corporal. He earned an M.A. degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University in 1961 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver in 1966.

A gifted and prolific writer, Dr. Gilley published three books of poetry: Hippopotamus & Flowers, Confessions and Experiments, and Lawyer Nead and Other Poems. He published essays and poems in Midwest Quarterly, The New York Times, Southwest Review, Laurel Review, Verb, Descant, Prairie Schooner, and many other periodicals. His work was noted by the Maine Author Collection for its “imagery and imagination…power and humor.” He was a passionate reader and exuberant conversationalist and letter writer, and enthusiastically shared ideas with everyone in his life.

Dr. Gilley was also a generous and inspiring professor of English and creative writing. Laughter, lively discussion, and readings of original student work were regularly heard in his classrooms, and many of his students felt motivated to pursue writing after graduation. Dr. Gilley held teaching positions at Johns Hopkins University, Washington College, University of Denver, and Bloomsburg State College. He taught at University of Maine at Farmington for more than 20 years and retired there as professor emeritus.

He energetically continued his extensive reading and his most important work as a creative writer for the next 27 years.

Dr. Gilley was predeceased by his wife, Daima Turner Gilley; and his parents, Wendell Gilley and Addie Gilley.

Dr. Gilley is survived by his three children, Anne Gilley, of New York, New York; Amy Gilley, of Durango, Colorado; and Tom Gilley, of North Yarmouth; and his grandson, Scott Gilley, of North Yarmouth.

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