110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Gilmore, 84, spent final week surrounded by family
posted Oct 22, 2013 - 10:43:17am
Doubtless, the Angel League has a new newspaper today.
It's all about sports, the news is all good, and everyone in Heaven can't wait to subscribe.
The publisher is Roger Sprague Gilmore. Having logged 54 years at his earthbound sports desk, Gilmore now has the wings and an eagle's eye view of the field.
The beloved veteran sports editor died Oct. 22, 2013, at the age of 84. He was home in DeLand, surrounded by his loving wife of 54 years, Mary, all four of their children — Cindy, Warren, Linda and Greg — several of his 10 grandchildren, and his only great-grandchild, namesake Roger Gilmore Harrell, who is 3 years old.
"It's a great loss for our community. He meant so much to so many. He touched so many lives," DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar said.
Services, open to the community, will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, on Melching Field at Conrad Park, at the corner of South Woodland Boulevard and Euclid Avenue in DeLand. Pastor Brian Carr of Trinity United Methodist Church in DeLand will officiate; Allen-Summerhill is in charge.
Gilmore's long life began in Chicago, but he spent much of his youth in his beloved Vermont before serving in the U.S. Navy, where he wrote for the Green Cove Springs Naval Station newspaper and worked as a lifeguard. In 1952, he saved the lives of three swimmers attending a picnic hosted by Sub Group Three.
"You are hereby commended for your performance of duty," Capt. E.R. Sperry wrote to Gilmore.
Gilmore attended the University of Florida in Gainesville and, just a few days after graduation with a journalism degree, was hired by the DeLand Sun News, where he started work on Groundhog Day 1959. The holiday forever remained special to him.
Gilmore relocated to DeLand, married his sweetheart and began a career of more than five decades chronicling the achievements of young athletes across West Volusia, often writing about members of two or even three generations of a sports-minded family.
"He raised me at the ballpark," one such athlete wrote on Celeste Gilmore's Facebook page upon reading the announcement about Gilmore's death.
Gilmore's final 21 years of sportswriting were spent as sports editor of The Beacon. He typed his last story much like he did his first: with two speedy fingers, on a typewriter, not a computer.
Gilmore was devoted to local sports, and to giving positive recognition to the hard-working youths who played them. He annually presented his own scholar-athlete award to two graduating seniors, one girl and one boy, at DeLand High School.
Traveling with the team to away games and wearing out the sidelines at home, camera always around his neck, Gilmore attended 509 consecutive DeLand High Bulldog football games before being benched by illness in 2008.
In 2001, Gilmore's extraordinary career in local journalism was recognized by the Florida High School Activities Association, when he was inducted into the FHSAA Hall of Fame.
He was awarded DeLand High School's first-ever honorary diploma, and was the first person to earn the Pilot Club of DeLand's annual Making a Difference Award.
Gilmore was a member of the Halls of Fame of the High Schools of DeLand and Taylor High School of Pierson. He had at least one key to the city, a DeLand Little League field named in his honor, and in 2006 was named the Daytona Beach News-Journal Sportsperson of the Year.
Along the way, Gilmore played sports in his own right, coached, volunteered and aided dozens of community causes.
During the 1960s, he was the only white player on DeLand's African-American softball team, The Black Hawks. His fellow players nicknamed him "The Spot."
Despite his great civic activity, Gilmore loved his family most of all, and delighted in his 10 grandchildren — Drew, Amanda, Stephen, Bailey, Christian, Delaina, Sloane, Fletcher, Gunnar and Dexter — and great-grandchild Roger.
Also mourning him are his children's spouses: Cindy's husband, Len Smith, Warren's wife, Traci, and Greg's wife, Celeste.
Family members expressed gratitude for their final week at home with Roger. He remained alert, sharp and full of humor to the very end, his children said, before passing peacefully in his sleep.
"We got to talk with him and laugh with him," daughter Cindy said.
He was able to gather at his bedside those who meant the most to him, and to be sure they knew how much he loved them.
At the FHSAA induction ceremony in Tampa, the master of ceremonies described the members of the 2001 Hall of Fame class: They didn't begin their careers with the intention of finding glory at the end of the road, he said. They didn't work — six days a week, seven days a week — with their eyes on the prize.
They did it for others. Selflessly.
Those of us who had the honor of working with Gilmore can certainly vouch for that.
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