Joyce 'Nikki' Gilman

Posted: Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kenai resident Joyce "Nikki" Gilman died Tuesday, July 21 at Pathway's Assisted Living in North Kenai. She was 75.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, July 31 at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church in Kenai.

Mrs. Gilman was born in La Grande, Ore., on July 9, 1934 to Donald and Jenny Smith. She graduated from Eastern Oregon University where she met the love of her life, Donald Gilman. After they were married on August 4, 1955, the couple moved to Louisiana so Mr. Gilman could complete his military service. She taught school in Louisiana and their oldest son, Bradley, was born there. Their son Blaine was born three years later when the family returned to Oregon.

In 1968, Mr. and Mrs. Gilman embarked on their Alaska adventure. The family lived in Seldovia for a year before moving to Seward. During the family's seven years in Seward, Mrs. Gilman taught at the elementary and high school. She enjoyed directing plays at Seward High School.

Mrs. Gilman and her family moved to Kenai in 1975 when Mr. Gilman was elected borough mayor. She served as the librarian at Nikiski Elementary and Kenai Elementary before retiring to take over her parents' business, Country Liquor.

"Nikki was Don's partner in all things and as such she was deeply involved in her community. Nikki served as a board member for the Boys and Girls Club and as an active volunteer with the Kenai River Classic.

"Nikki was full of life. She was very proud of her sons. She enjoyed entertaining and all were welcome in her home. Nikki's greatest joy was spoiling her grandchildren. She loved to watch their soccer games, concerts, and drama performances. Nikki was a wonderfully loving mother and grandmother who will be deeply missed," her family said.

Mrs. Gilman was preceded in death by her loving husband, Don.

She is survived by her parents, Donald and Jenny Smith of Cedar Edge, Colo.; sons Brad Gilman of Vienna, Va., and Blaine Gilman of Kenai; daughters-in-law, Lisa Gilman of Vienna and Margaret Gilman of Kenai; grandchildren Anna, Joey and Luke Gilman of Vienna and Rebecca, Ben, Jacob and Brittany of Kenai; sister Margaret and brother-in-law John Steinbeck of Kenai, and sister Jennifer Fennell of Chicago.

The family asks that memorial donations may be made to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Building Fund. Condolences may be sent to the Gilman family at 216 Susieana Lane, Kenai, AK 99611.

Arrangements were made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel.

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