Now, one month later, I am able to post what I wrote about my grandparents. (i.e. my mother in law has the boys while I have the house to myself for a bit). For those of you who attended the service, this is the original piece not the edited one that I read that day. Enjoy!
During the summer that my sister, Evie, was 14, we visited my Grandparents who were then living at the Canby Grove Conference Center. One day, my Grandma and I were following Evie on a walk towards the dining hall when she nodded her head towards Evie and said to me, “Do you know that when I was 14 years old, I met your Grandpa?”
Chuck was seventeen and a senior at Colville High School. Betty was just a sophomore. It was love at first sight for him. It was not for her. After all, it was 'that Chuck Gillies' who told the boys of the school that he was going to ask Betty Lohr to the school dance, but didn't because his courage failed him. This almost caused Betty to not have a date to the school dance. In time, love began to bloom when they began attending high school chorus together and Chuck was directed by his uncle, the chorus leader, to walk Betty home afterward rehearsals. It seemed, however, that life has a way of throwing a curveball at Young Love. Chuck graduated high school and moved to Seattle to work and live with his parents once again and Betty moved to Spokane with her parents. They were a state apart, yet they were still in love. Chuck would travel by Greyhound when he could and stay at his Grandma Nottingham's house who also happened to live in Spokane. Grandma Nottingham would joke that Chuck must really love her with how often he would travel to see her. It was true, Chuck did love his Grandma. It was through her love and devotion that he came to know the Lord. He also really loved that she lived in the same city that Betty Lohr lived in and that he could continue to court her. Chuck soon left Seattle and moved back to Spokane to be with his Betty. It was during this time that he began to take her to different church events. One of the events was a week of services held at the Methodist church. As Betty listened to the speaker, she began to hear the Holy Spirit drawing her to Himself. That night Betty went from being merely religious to a believer in Jesus Christ.
Then, the April of Betty's junior year of high school, Chuck asked her to marry him. They were wed at Betty's parents' home on October 10, 1942. He was 20. She had just turned 17.
They were young. They were in love. They were warned that it wouldn't last.
(Wedding Portrait October 10, 1942)
After their honeymoon, Chuck and Betty settled in West Seattle. He went back to the Shipyards to work while she went back to high school to get her diploma. A couple of months later, Betty realized that they were going to have a baby join their family. Karen was born on August 23, 1943. Betty had a rough time with the delivery since Karen was born feet first. But, time went on and Chuck and Betty grew and learned to be parents. In March of 1944, Chuck was called up to join the Army to fight in World War 2. After Chuck left for basic training, Betty realized that Baby number 2 was due in December. After a brief stay in Spokane, Betty and Karen moved to Joplin, Missouri to be with Chuck. They lived on $100 a month, but life was good. They were together. They were in love.
One night, Chuck came home early from night time maneuvers. His unit had been practicing night time firing and had just been moved away from the stockpile of ammunition when lightning struck the pile. Had Chuck's unit not moved, they would've been severely injured if not dead. Soon it was time for Betty and Karen to head back to Spokane, so Betty could have the support of their families when baby number two arrived. Betty's doctor was not pleased that she was going to be traveling alone while pregnant and caring for a toddler. He quickly wrote up emergency furlough papers so that Chuck could accompany his family to Spokane and get them settled in. When Chuck returned, however, it was to a camp of strangers. His unit had been called out to fight on the European front. His unit had been called out to fight in Europe. The men were not trained for this style of fighting and many of them died on the fields of what was later know as the Battle of the Bulge. Chuck was sent to Chicago to train in telephone repairs. It was there, after Chuck had accepted a speaking engagement at a country church, that he felt the call of God on his life to be a pastor.
Meanwhile back in Spokane, Betty and Karen were living with her parents and preparing for the birth of the baby. On December 13th, Betty delivered her second breech baby, Chuck Jr. After Chuck was born, Betty began to attend the Christian Missionary Alliance Church. It was a move that would change the course of the family since this was the church denomination that they would be a part of.
The war was wrapping up, but Chuck wasn't going to be discharged for a while, so Betty took Karen and Baby Chuck to Missouri so they could once again be a family together. Chuck's last assignment in the army was to serve with the unit's Chaplain as his assistant. By the time the war ended and the discharge papers were signed, the call to be a pastor rooted deeper into Chuck's heart. The little family moved back to Spokane and was discipled by the pastor of the Alliance church. Within a few months, they were asked to lead a small church in Garden Springs, Washington. They agreed and moved their growing family into the parsonage. On December 16th, 1946, they welcomed Baby Kathy into the family. Kathy was the first baby who was kind enough to Betty to be born the correct way. By time Betty was released from the hospital she was ready to care for her family and help Chuck with the growing church.
(Grandpa Gillies baptizing Heather)
All during this time, Chuck was working, pastoring their growing church, and attending college in order to be ordained. For two years, the family grew and worked together. But then, Chuck stepped down as pastor of the Garden Springs church so that he could work in Seattle at Boeing and complete his college education at Seattle Pacific College. After all, Baby number four was on the way and work was scarce in the Spokane area. While Betty and the kids lived in Spokane, Chuck would hitchhike home every other weekend to spend time with his family. Finally, Baby Jim was born on September 5, 1948, and a month later the family of six moved together to Seattle. Life was busy for this young college couple with four children who were 5, 4, 2, and newly born. Chuck went to school in the morning, worked in the afternoon, and wrote out his papers in the evening while Betty typed them up. They were busy with their church and, for a time, were the student pastorate at Panther Lake.
They were young. He was 26. She was 23. They were in love and they had faith that this was were God had placed them.
School was beginning to wind down for Chuck as Betty was finishing up her pregnancy with their fifth child. On June 28, 1950, their third daughter, Pennie, was born. Their days were full and eleven months later, Chuck finally finished his college degree at 29 years old. Through the finagling of a friend in the administration office, Betty was able to get tickets so that all six of them could watch Chuck graduate. After all, it was 'a family affair'.
That fall, Chuck was offered a position at the church in McCleary, Washington. Chuck and Betty moved their large family into the basement of the church, where they lived for three years. The church grew as Chuck preached the Word of God. Families started coming to the church. The basement were the family lived was being used for church activities. Toys were broken, messes were made. It became apparent that the Pastor and his family needed their own place, especially since Baby number 6 was on the way. A small house was bought and the children were shoehorned in to whatever corner of the house they could claim as their own. Then on October 30, 1954, Beth, the disruptor of the Halloween party, was born. Betty's doctor was concerned that she would not get the rest she needed at home with five other children to care for, so he ordered her to stay at the hospital in a private room for ten days. The poor doctor did not understand the depth of Betty's Gillies stubbornness. They argued and finagled until finally they agreed that Betty would stay for three days in a four bed hospital room that would only be shared if there was an emergency. Betty and her doctor both left the conversation feeling that they had bested the other.
The church in McCleary helped out the young family as best as they could. There were the Pekola's who would babysit for Chuck and Betty. They would often take Beth and a diaper bag and spend the day with her pretending that she was their own. There was the school principle who offered a teaching position to Chuck once he saw how well he handled the kids who attended the summer VBS. Once again, Chuck began going to college at Seattle Pacific to get his teaching certificate. This time, school was for half the summer. It was during this time that the family began their yearly summer travels to the Canby Grove Conference for family camp. It was a great source of comfort and refreshing for both Chuck and Betty.
Time went on as it is wont to do. Karen, Chuck, Kathy, Jim, and Pennie were all in school. Chuck completed his Teaching Courses and became a licensed teacher in the McCleary School District. Betty continued to stay at home raising their six children. The Lord was continuing to stretch and grow the couple and they began to see that they could serve the Lord as Chuck and Betty, the people who God created them to be and not who they thought they should be. Life was good. Sure, there were struggles with raising children, after all there were two teenagers in the house. There was also a seventh baby on the way.
This pregnancy, however, was not progressing like all the others did. Pre-eclampsia was setting in and Betty was put onto bedrest. Bedrest is another word for torture for this mother of six children. On July 15, 1958, Timothy Bruce was born. The doctors thought he had died in birth, but that baby had the stubborn Gillies streak through and through and fought to live. Timothy was taken in a police car to the Orthopedic hospital in Seattle. Betty was too weak for the trip and had to rest at home while Chuck drove to Seattle to be with Timothy. How hard it must have been for Chuck to leave his beloved wife to recuperate at home and to be the lone parent in Timothy's hospital room! How agonizing it must have been for Betty to be stuck at home and not be able to cuddle and comfort her young son as he lost his fight for life! Three days after he was born, Timothy passed away. His short life left scars on the family.
Suddenly, leading the church in McCleary became too much. How could they pour into other lives when they themselves were so hurt and broken? A year and a half after Timmy died, Chuck and Betty packed up their family and moved to Issaquah.
Chuck and Betty were no longer young. They were already 38 and 35 and had done a lot of living in the past 18 years. However, they were together. They were still in love. They still had their faith in a sovereign God.
(Four Gillies Generations)
The move to Issaquah was the change of scenery that Chuck and Betty needed. Chuck began to teach at Issaquah Junior High and Betty began working for Boeing. Life moved on. Karen graduated high school and went off to college. Chuck and Betty heard of a boy who needed a stable family and, after discussing it with the family, opened up their lives to Dave Fife. Time began to speed up as Chuck and then Kathy graduated high school and moved away. Within that hustle and bustle, Peggy Allen moved in and stayed with the family for awhile. The Gillies clan began to grow when Karen met and married Glen Donaldson on August 7, 1964. A little over a year later, Chuck and Betty were happy grandparents to Glenda. A couple of years later, their second grandchild, Kevin, was added into the family.
Chuck and Betty continued to watch as their children grew and Young Love blossomed in them. Kathy married her Tom Richards on December 30, 1967. Jim married his Doris House just a couple weeks later on January 19, 1968. Two more grandchildren were added to the family. Jeffrey, to Kathy and Tom, and Charlotte, to Jim and Doris. Charlotte was born the day after Jim left for Oakland before leaving for Vietnam. Thankfully, Jim was able to get furlough to see his daughter before shipping off to war. One can't help but wonder if Betty secretly hoped that Jim's unit would leave him behind just as Chuck's unit left him behind all those years before. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and Chuck and Betty had two sons overseas. Jim to Vietnam. Dave to Cuba. War is not good for a parent's heart.
Another grave concern arose in 1968. Beth ended up being hospitalized for 4 weeks with Guillain-Barre. The outlook was bleak, but Chuck and Betty kept their trust in the Lord, the Great Physician.
Beth was discharged on Christmas Eve with plans for her return to the hospital a few days later. She had such a turn around that she was back in school on January 9th. Chuck and Betty could just shake their head in wonder and say, “But God...”
Through all of the turmoil and the joys that the family life had, they continued to serve the Lord in the local churches at Roadside Chapel, the start up at May Valley, and at Ravensdale. Chuck wasn't the lead pastor, but was a help and would step in and do the work that was needed.
Life was changing and they were changing. Their children were grown up and expanding the family by having children of their own. Chuck married his Linda Brown on June 14, 1969. Pennie soon followed suit and married her Dave Lien on June 20, 1970. Russ was born to Kathy and Tom. Jimmy was born to Jim and Doris. Dave Fife married his Coral Chase on February 29, 1972.
It was during this time that Chuck was asked to become the pastor for a small struggling church in Bly, Oregon. In January of 1972, Chuck, Betty, and Beth moved to Bly to begin their ministry there. Beth was a junior in high school and had to ride for over an hour through mountain passes to go to Lakeview High school which was almost 40 miles away. Beth graduated and left for Spokane to work for the Salvation Army. Chuck and Betty's house that had once held up to ten people, was now down to just the two of them. They were empty-nesters. He was 52. She was 48. But they had each other and they had their ministry to the church of Bly. It had started out very small. The church district was ready to close the door on the Bly church, but now it was growing and thriving. The Gillies clan was also growing and thriving. Chuck and Linda had their own baby Chuck, Christi, and Matt. Jim and Doris had Corinna. Chuck and Betty now had ten grandchildren that they could boast about.
(Grandpa and Grandma with 3 month old Heather)
Even though the church in Bly was doing well, Chuck and Betty felt led to go pastor the struggling church in Roseburg,Oregon. In the fall of 1977, they packed up their house, said their goodbyes to the people of Bly, and drove to Roseburg to start ministering. That church was a hard church to serve. It required work, prayer, and an outpouring of grace from God, but there were moments of great joy there. Four more granddaughters were added to the clan. Jim and Doris had Jennifer. Pennie and Dave adopted Marla and then had Tonya and two years later, Nicole. They now had 14 grandchildren and very full hearts.
Another moment of joy was when Beth returned home from college and Jim Luse, a young man in the church who Chuck took under his wing, began to notice the Pastor's daughter. Chuck and Betty felt a great need to hand the care of the church over to another pastor, but didn't want to break up the couple. So, Chuck pulled Jim aside and in his rather blunt way said, “If you are interested in Beth, great. If not, she will be moving with us.” Beth married her Jim on February 14, 1981. A year and a half later another granddaughter, Evie, was added to the family.
By this time, Chuck and Betty had found another church to minister to in Mountain Home, Idaho.
This was another hard church to serve in, the needs were great. It was small group that met together in an old abandoned pizza parlor. The town that they lived in, however, was close to where Jim and Doris lived and they could see their Idaho grandkids more often. For four years, Chuck and Betty served in Mountain Home, but now they were ready to retire from the ministry. He was 63. She was 60. He had already had knee surgery. She was dealing with arthritis and bursitis. However, they were in love. They were together. They were ready for the next adventure that life would hand them.
Meanwhile, Kathy and Tom were up in Anchorage, running a commercial kitchen exhaust cleaning company. Chuck and Betty decided to move up to Alaska to help them out. Chuck worked on the exhaust fans and Betty was the bookkeeper. She also took the time to learn how to use the computer and was able to get the accounting moved over to a computer based system. Karen and Glen, Chuck and Linda, and Pennie and Dave with all of their families were up there too. Ten of Chuck and Betty's grandchildren were all close by and kept them young at heart. Soon after their move to Alaska, Betty flew down to Roseburg to help Beth out with the birth of their last grandchild, Heather. They now had 16 grandchildren. It wasn't quite the twenty-five that they joked about having, but it was close. While Chuck and Betty were up in Alaska, Chuck would drive out to Wasilla and help out the small church that was starting up there. He might be retired but he could still serve the Lord.
For five years, Chuck and Betty worked and lived in Alaska, but the cold weather was not helping Betty's arthritis. They decided to refurbish the cabin that they bought at the Canby Grove Conference Center all those years ago and turn it into a snug little house for themselves. Chuck was the groundskeeper for the center while Betty was the bookkeeper. They lived a quiet life there. They had visits from their children and grandchildren. Chuck took up painting. Betty got a parakeet. The parakeet would ride on Chuck's shoulder as he rode his trike around the center. There was the occasional flood that would cause Chuck and Betty to call up Pennie and Dave to help them get out of there. Tonya's boyfriend, Jeff would drive up to their cabin in his four wheel drive truck and help haul them and their valuable possessions out to safety. With flooding comes mold, which aggravated Chuck's asthma. The cold and damp flared up Betty's arthritis. They decided that they needed to move south to a drier, warmer climate once more. Chuck and Betty agreed that this move to the Town and Country Manor in Santa Ana, California was going to be their last move together. He was 76. She was 73. They were ready to retire, but not quite ready to give up serving. Betty played piano for Chapel services and wrote for the Manor's newspaper. Chuck befriended all who would let him. He would help the residents from the assisted living and skilled care wings of the manor get to the manor's church where he would also lead the singing.
They might have been old, but they were together and they were in love.
(Grandpa and Grandma's 60th wedding anniversary)
Time plodded on. The grand kids all grew up and had kids of their own. Chuck and Betty moved from the Independent Wing, to the Assisted Living Wing of the Manor. Sickness and dementia began to slowly erode Betty's memory and she was moved away from Chuck into the Skilled Care Center. One thing that her mind never forgot was her love for Chuck. She became the frustration of the staff as she would slip out when no one was looking to find her Chuck. Without fail, they would find her sitting with Chuck in his room. Chuck would visit her in the Skilled Care wing as often as he could, until he needed to be moved over himself.
They were together. They were breaking all the rules by snuggling up in the same hospital bed, but they didn't care. They were in love.
Chuck and Betty were soon moved to another home that could care for their needs better. They could share a room and a bed and no one would disapprove. It was short lived, however, once Betty fell and had to be hospitalized. Chuck would visit as much as he could, but Betty still missed having her Chuck by her side. She was released to the care of a different facility and Chuck was moved over to be with her once again.
It was good. They were together and they were in love.
Betty passed away with her Chuck right next to her on February 27, 2015. She was 89. They had been married for 72 years.
Fifty-four days later, Chuck followed his Betty to the feet of their Savior on April 15, 2015. He was 93.
Chuck and Betty's parents were right, all those years ago. Their young love didn't last. It changed and grew and encompassed all 7 of their children, 2 foster children whom they called their own, 7 in-laws, 16 grandchildren, 31 great grandchilren, 2 great great grandchildren, and countless other lives that stretch from Spokane, to McCleary, to May Valley, to Bly and Roseburg, Mountain Home, Alaska, Canby, and Santa Ana. They left a legacy of great faith in a Sovereign God even when they were bruised and beaten by life's crushing blows. They left a legacy of a good, deep, and sustaining love that we can share with others.