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5:34 AM Sun, Dec. 16th

Even in death, John Gillman keeps on helping

Gwen Gillman shows some of the items she donated to the Arizona Elk Society’s Camo Closet program.

Photo by Don Martin.

Gwen Gillman shows some of the items she donated to the Arizona Elk Society’s Camo Closet program.

We all know that death is inevitable and that we all will experience it at some time.

We mourn at the loss of a loved one, but life doesn’t stop at that point for the survivors, and we must go on.

On April 13, local outdoorsman and master of all trades, John Gillman, died after suffering a massive heart attack.

John was a vivacious man who enjoyed life to the fullest. He liked to hunt and fish, and working on boats was his passion. John had accumulated lots of tools, parts, firearms and boats just to name a few in his life. He was, as his wife Gwen said, “a hoarder,” but in reality he was a collector.

After the shock of losing John so unexpectedly, Gwen was faced with a situation that all widows have to deal with. What to do with all of the clothing items that her husband had collected over the years?

Since John was an avid outdoorsman, he, like all of us, had lots of outdoor related items, including clothing and boots in his closets. Gwen felt that John would want those items donated for others to use.

Gwen asked if I knew anyone or an organization that would be interested in taking these items.

My first thought was the Arizona Elk Society. I know that they have a program for disabled Arizona veterans that allow them to go on outdoor experiences. It’s called the Hunt for Heroes. As part of that program they have what is called the Camo Closet.

Tom Wagner is the coordinator for the Hunts for Heroes program, and when I called him to ask if they were interested in the new and used outdoor clothing that Gwen wanted to donate, he was very happy.

“Of course we will be happy to accept that donation,” Wagner said.

Wagner explained that the Camo Closet program is always looking for new and slightly used hunting clothing, including camouflage and cold weather gear to give to the veterans.

“Over 50 percent of our hunters have never hunted before,” Wagner said. “So we try and give them items that they will need to make their hunts more successful.

“Good cold weather clothing enables veterans with nerve damage in their hands and feet to hunt when the temperatures drop. Other times, it is the camouflage clothing that helps veterans get close to deer and elk.”

I contacted Gwen and told her about the Camo Closet program, and she agreed that this would be a good program to donate to.

“I think John would like that,” she said.

She gathered up a large amount of items, new and used camouflage clothing, several pairs of boots, socks, thermal underwear and even a set of waders.

After I had collected all of the items, I learned that Steve Clark, the CEO for the AES was going to be in Kingman for a meeting with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Clark agreed to take the items to Phoenix where they will be distributed to veterans in their program.

“It’s people like Gwen Gillman, who face the dilemma of what to do with their late husband’s hunting clothing, who makes our Camo Closet a success,” Wagner said of the donation. “Thank you, Gwen, for giving back to our Arizona veterans who have sacrificed so much. Hunts for Heroes is blessed to have you as a partner.”

If anyone would like to donate to the Hunts for Heroes program, or to the Camo Closet program, contact Wagner at 480-760-3868.