John S. Gillgren, 71, passed away on Tuesday, February, 13, 2018 after suffering a massive heart attack a few days earlier.
John was born in Long Beach, CA on July 28, 1946 to Deane and the late John S. Gillgren. He graduated in 1964 from Nile C. Kinnick (Yo Hi) in Japan, where he excelled in track and field. John enlisted in the United States Army on March 15, 1966 and served 13 years active duty. As a member of the 1st and 5th Special Forces, he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant, served two tours in Vietnam and earned the Bronze Star. John subsequently completed his military service as a Naval Reserve Petty Officer First Class at Joint Base Andrews.
After leaving active duty, he became a communications officer with the U.S. Department of State. He was posted to the U.S. Embassies in Costa Rica and Zaire. While in Costa Rica, he met Joyce Wells; they were married on October 6, 1984. Upon their return to Virginia, John earned his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Education from George Mason University. In the summer of 1992, John and his family moved to Caracas, Venezuela where he taught Health and Physical Education as Escuela Campo Alegre. While there, John earned his Master’s of Science in Sociology of Sport and Sports Management from the University of Leicester. After returning to Virginia in 1995, John was a adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College. He also held various positions with government contracting companies. He ended his working career as a targeting officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, having spent 16 months in Baghdad. John and Joyce retired in spring 2012 and relocated to Amelia Island, Florida.
Over the course of John’s life, he had the opportunity to travel and live all over the world, visiting over 100 countries. After retirement, John and Joyce enjoyed taking cruises and exploring parts of the world he had yet to visit. In his spare time, John loved to write. He published a series of young adult adventure novels that share his love of family, history, diving, and pirates. He was fascinated with researching and writing several more stories that centered on the Cold War. John enjoyed spending time at the beach, collecting sea shells and sharks teeth. He was a huge fan of ice hockey and loved the Washington Capitals. More than anything, John loved his family and spending as much time as he could with them.
John is survived by his wife, Joyce Gillgren; his children, Kathlene Crowe, Geoffrey (Tanya) Gillgren, Christine (Frank) Miali, Andrea (Andrew) Wallace, and Kendra Gillgren; his grandchildren Tatyana, Ryan, Nicholas, Stephen, Joshua, Riley, Dominic, and Cael; his mother Deane Gillgren; his brother Thomas (Kim) Gillgren; and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded by his son Andrew Gillgren, sister Diana Abella, and father John S. Gillgren.
In lieu in flowers, the family suggests a donation to the American Heart Association or K9s for Warriors.
Visitation and a memorial service will be held on Monday, February 19, 2018 at Oxley-Heard Funeral Home. Visitation begins at 10:00 am immediately followed by the memorial service at 11:00am.
Burial with military honors will follow at Bosque Bello Cemetery.