Donald R. Gillespie
Donald R. Gillespie, a long time Alaska resident and educator passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona in the presence of family on May 24, 2017.
Don was born in San Francisco and grew up in Honolulu, HI and Chicago, IL before moving to back to the Bay Area, where he met his wife, Lynn (Ichimaru) Gillespie, at San Francisco State University. The pair married shortly after graduation and ventured to Alaska in 1970 to the village of Koyuk where Don served as the school principal. They taught for 21 years and raised two sons. Don loved animals and all things outdoors, so rural Alaska was a perfect fit. On arriving in Koyuk, he learned to hunt, trap and fish. He also raised all manner of pets, from iguanas and snakes to geese and things in between.
Upon retiring, Don and Lynn moved to Wasilla, where Don kept active hiking, woodworking, fly tying and making frequent fishing trips around the state. For many years into his “retirement”, Don worked as a substitute teacher in the Mat-Su area elementary schools and assisted new rural educators adapt to life and work in the bush, which sometimes required him to spend weeks at village schools living out of a duffle bag, but he loved the adventure.
Don and Lynn recently moved to Scottsdale, Arizona to enjoy the warm weather and be closer to family. Don Gillespie was preceded in death by Lynn and is survived by his sons Josh and Dustin; and grandchildren Ellee, Andrew, Max and Matthew.