Baker City, Oregon
George Wildon “Bill” Gwilliam, 74, a longtime Baker City resident who served as mayor for 10 years, died Sept. 6, 2002, at his home.
His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2625 Hughes Lane. Bishop Greg Baxter will officiate. Interment will be in Mount Hope Cemetery.
Visitations will be from noon to 8 p.m. today at Gray’s West & Co., 1500 Dewey Ave.
He was born on June 7, 1928, at Baker City to George Stanford and Vernice Sarah Gwilliam. In 1935, he moved with his family to Boise and lived there until 1942.
The family then returned to Baker City to help Uncle Joe Gwilliam in the bakery. Joe’s four boys were serving in the military during World War II. The bakery was Gwilliam Brothers Bakery.
Bill was only 14 when he started to help in the bakery after school. He drove the bakery truck, greased bread pans and packed bread shipments. He was able to get a driver’s license when he was 14 for that reason. He worked all during his high school years driving the bakery truck.
He was a 1947 Baker High School graduate. One of his favorite teachers was Harold Kirkland and his favorite football coach was Len Searles. He loved football. He played coronet and was quite good.
He met his sweetheart, Dorene Parry, who had just moved from Utah and the couple were married in 1948 at the Cardston Alberta LDS temple. They had two daughters, Carla Anne (named after her grandpa, Carl) and Georgene (named after her grandpa, George).
Bill continued working for 27 more years for Gwilliam Brothers Bakery. He worked for Chet Smith Motors for a short while after the bakery was sold and then he began working as an agent for Farmer’s Insurance. He developed his own office and continued working there until he retired at age 65.
He was appointed as justice of the peace by Tom Young (representing the governor). He was on the Baker City Council for more than 20 years. He was a member of the Citizen Review Board and chairman of the CASA board, helping children have representation in court. He was instrumental in getting the program started.
He served as president of the Oregon Mayor’s Association in 1987 and was a charter member of the Baker Rotary Club, which he had served as president, secretary and treasurer, a position he held when he died. He received the Paul Harris Award, the highest honor given a Rotarian for “service above self.”
He was on the board of trustees for St. Elizabeth Hospital for many years and was a lifelong member and supporter of the chamber of commerce. He was a member and president of the Baker County Council on Alcohol and Drug Problems (now New Directions Northwest) from November 1980 to March 1989. He served as host for several Rotary and American Field Service foreign exchange students.
Regarding religious service, he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a counselor in the Bishopric for the LDS Church for five years and served as bishop of the Baker Ward for 11 years.
He later served on the high council of the La Grande, Oregon, Stake for the church. At the time of his death, he was serving as an ordinance worker in the Boise Temple, having served eight years.
Survivors include his wife, Dorene Gwilliam of Baker City; two daughters, Carla Christensen of Shelley, Idaho, and Georgene Doster of Salt Lake City; eight grandchildren, Shad, Brooke and Tyson Flower, Tanys Searle, Trina and Jacob Helmstetler, Gina Catenzaro, Ian Doster; and one great-grandchild, Leighton George Helmstetler; foster children, Marie Lindi, Kevin Getty, Don Sorensen and Sherry White; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Vernice Gwilliam; his father, George Stanford Gwilliam; and a brother, Glenn Gwilliam.
Memorial contributions may be made to Rotary International Polio Plus or the Perpetual Education Fund through Gray’s West & Co., P.O. Box 726, Baker City, OR 97814.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, September 13, 2002
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor