Monday, March 14, 2011

Robert "Bob" Gilson

This is the high school graduation photo of one of my first boyfriends: Bob Gilson.

Bob was one of the dearest friends of my brother, Jim.
Jim & Bob goofing around on the Island
We met at a youth-group event in the summer between 7th and 8th grade for me, and 10th & 11th grade, for them.
We were from a suburb of Seattle, and Bob lived in a neighborhood of north Seattle. 
The youth-group event was a beach party at the home of a friend on Mercer Island.

I have a beautiful older sister. I was a bit overshadowed by her beauty, and was the tomboy-younger sister at that time. Bob was the first person to directly address me as if I had some beauty of my own - he actually said so to my face. I was stunned - it hadn't occurred to me. I remember stammering something like, "You should meet my sister..." But he made it clear that he had no interest in my sister; he was interested in me.
We enjoyed a very innocent dating relationship.
He was a gentleman - a gentle man, with lovely manners.

Bob was one of those few men who could spend any amount of time talking on the telephone. He used to call me, and talk and talk. I recall sitting in a recliner in my parents' bedroom when he called, and settling in to listen. He was tall and strong, yet softspoken. He brought flowers to me.
He grew up to be a police officer, and a detective.
He was funny, he was kind, he was sarcastic, thoughtful and faithful.

It is my great sorrow that Bob passed away while we were in California last week.
His memorial service is next week. You can read his obituary HERE.

With all of the devastation, distress and sorrow in Japan, one death might seem like a small thing. But it is not small to those who knew and loved Bob - it is a big thing.
To me and my family, and especially to Bob's family, his death is huge.

God bless you, Bob.
You OWN Ravenna Boulevard.
I hope you have found Katie, and that you wrap your arms around her now.
All of us in the Boren family send our love to you and your family, now and always.
We will see you later.


Maggie May said...

Oh I am sorry. He sounds like a wonderful man, and in his face I see a gentle, strong soul. He looks a lot like my cousins, red headed and freckled, smart and good.

rebecca said...

thank you for writing this very dear and personal account of robert scott gilson in your life.

it is so important to place a face on any loss. perhaps this is what is so difficult for us when enormous tragedy hits. it is only incomprehensible by magnitude. numbers, figures, endless visual streams of destruction. when it is distilled in personal will pierce each persons heart with the realness of what you share here. the loss of a friend.

you are so beautiful, inside and out.

Mary Potts said...

Oh Karen, what lovely memories you have of this gentle man. It's often so difficult to feel good about oneself during the awkward years, and it sounds like through Bob's lovely manners, confidence and sense of humor you had a true friend. I'm so thankful for you that he was a part of your life, and so sorry that he died so young. It's certainly comforting to think of him with his arms around Katie though...

Karen said...

I have a fondness for redheaded men. He sounds like a beautiful man and a true friend to you. I know he will be greatly missed, and send condolences to you and his family.

Busy Bee Suz said...

He sounds like such a wonderful man....surely his family is devastated by his passing.
You have given him a lovely tribute Karen. My love to you and his family at this sorrowful time.

AnnDeO said...

Through your tribute I can sense he truly was a "gentle" man. I am sorry for the loss of someone who was a bright spot in your life.

Kay said...

So sorry to hear about this loss. I too loved your description of him as a gentle man. Many men could learn a thing or two about being a gentle man. Will be praying for all the ones that knew him and loved him. Hugs!

Lakeland Jo said...

I am sorry you lost your friend. Prayers for you both. XX

Allegra Smith said...

I am so sorry and I hope you know that I will light a candle to Kuan Yin may She bring comfort to his family and his friends.

Our spirits are burdened with too much, too painful. I often wonder how to process so much sorrow and can only imagine that whatever we believe in is the only source of both hope and sustenance in order to allow us to accept, alas not necessarily to understand, any and all tragedies. I wish we were closer - I always wish that - to comfort each other by just being there. Love from here.

Elizabeth said...

This made me tear up -- for the obvious reasons but also for the memories -- we seem to have some similar ones, Karen. Much love and my condolences to all who knew this beautiful man.

karen gerstenberger said...

Thank you all for these kind thoughts and words. They help.

ChiTown Girl said...

Oh my gosh, Karen, I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. He sounds like a wonderful man, who will be greatly missed.

I loved the account of your childhood 'romance.' So beautiful.

I love the idea of him giving Katie a big hug. :)

KBL 2 ORD 2 SAN 2 LUV said...

Oh, Karen. My condolences and prayers to his family and loved ones, and to you. This is a lovely tribute. You honor him, and us, by sharing your story. (((hugs)))

jill said...

Well I'm over a year late on this one! I just found out about Bob's passing last week from a mutual friend (Isobel), with whom I reconnected on FaceBook. Was so sad to hear about Bob! I, too, dated him, but a few years after you, while at the UW. He was so unique and cool - he took me to my first Woody Allen movie, introduced me to jazz and took me to hear Dizzy Gillespie (whom I had never heard of), and seemed so worldly to me. I used to see him around Seattle into the '80s but drifted apart and hadn't heard about him in years. THanks for this lovely post and the photos - how I remember Bob. BTW not sure if you remember me (Jill Irwin) but met you on the AU bus to camp in Colorado, then bumped in to you in Boston and in Bellevue in the early 80s before drifting away from CS. Also so sorry to hear about the loss of your beautiful girl. Hugs and peace,

Jill said...

Hi Karen, responding to your comment on my blog here, seems easiest. Thanks for your feedback on my blog - a labor of love and fun in between my more mundane technical writing and editing work. Yes, Victoria is my older sister. She moved back to the NW a few years ago and is on Bainbridge with her family (she works at Eagle Harbor books now). All of my family has drifted from CS, but Vic's adopted son is now going to Sunday School and is hoping to go to Prin!
Yes, love the NW! Blessings to you and your family, too! jill