In honoring the Veterans that reside in our community we have asked to share some of their stories. We sat down with some of the veterans in our community and just listened to the stories of their lives. Their stories often brought about wonderful images of love, funny memories, and glimpses of the importance of family. In this month of Thanksgiving, and as we move into the holiday season, let us take a moment to glimpse into the life of a veteran, remember their service, and honor them.
Glimpses at the Lives and Service of U.S. Veterans: The Story of Cliff Gillard
Cliff Gillard was born in a little town in north Idaho right on the shores of Lake Pend Orielle. His biological mother passed from illness when he was 10 months old, and Cliff was adopted by a loving family just 30 miles from his birthplace.
His adopted family surrounded him with love while he grew up on their dairy farm just outside of town. Cliff remembers a time being chased with his mother by the resident bull across the pastures of the farm—thankfully, they both made it to safety!
He shares a memory of meeting the woman with whom he would spend 68 years—Martha Lee, or as Cliff called her, Little Jo. Jo was a senior and Cliff was a freshman when they first met. Cliff shared that he thought Jo was “about the cutest thing ever,” and he queried her friends about her. After she was informed of Cliff’s interest, she wrote him a note, and slipped it to him in the hallway of their school. The note read, “My name is Martha Lee [Last Name] and my folks are Bill and Myrtle [Last Name] and I live next to the Busy Bee School.”
The note was the beginning of a long-lasting, and loving, relationship. After marriage Cliff and Little Jo lived with Cliff’s parents on the dairy farm.
Cliff shared that before the draft began, and before he married, he had tried to join the Navy but was rejected because of his bad teeth. Cliff worked as a farmer after being rejected from the Navy. While working as a farmer he joined a Farmer’s Denture Club for $20 a year and got his upper teeth pulled. As the war got worse and the draft began, Cliff was drafted into the Navy even though he had no upper teeth. Cliff was based at Farragut Navel Station for four months and then was transferred to the Naval Air Station in Norman, Oklahoma.
Before their kids were born, Cliff and Jo loved riding off on adventures on their Harley motorcycle. As little as Jo was (4’9”), she swung her leg over their bike and rode off with a big smile on her face. Cliff shared that Jo thought nothing of high speeds and leaning over the corners on that Harley.
Cliff and Jo went on to have three children and worked alongside each other in their body shop they built in Idaho near Cliff’s parents’ home.
Once Cliff and Jo retired they spent their time traveling with either their Gold Wing motorcycle, or their little pickup truck. They traveled the lower 48 and the West thoroughly. Cliff shared that they loved travel down roads on which they had never been. In their travels, Cliff drove and Jo was the head navigator.
In 2011 Cliff lost Jo to a stroke. He moved to Ashley Pointe one year later. He enjoys spending time with his new-found friends, playing bingo, and chatting.
Ashley Pointe is honored to have Cliff Gillard as our resident! Thank you for your service and your story Cliff!
Our Commitment: During the month of November we take a little extra time to say, “Thank You” to the men and women that have served our country. Our Ashley Pointe community has made the commitment to give 50% of November new move-in community fees to American Legion Post 181.