Dr. John Edward Gilliland, 84, died Jan. 6, 2017. He passed away peacefully at his home in Franklin, Indiana, cared for and surrounded by his large and loving family after a valiant struggle with prostate cancer. He was born at home near Hope, Indiana, on Nov. 1, 1932, the youngest child of Walter John and Lavern Gilmour Gilliland. He grew up in the Hope Moravian Church, graduated from Hope High School and married his high school sweetheart, Nancy Jane Lorts, on June 12, 1955. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, then continued studies at the Moravian Theological Seminary there and at Indiana University School of Medicine to prepare for mission service. He earned his medical degree, completed three years of surgical training at Methodist Hospital and was ordained as a Moravian minister prior to serving along with his family in the Moravian Mission Field in Central America from 1962-1967. Upon his return to Indiana, he completed an OB-GYN residency and was board-certified, caring for many Hoosiers at his private practice in Franklin, Indiana, as well as continuing short-term mission trips to Honduras and Nicaragua over the years.
He looked to Jesus as a model for living and seemed especially inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 regarding one’s conduct toward the vulnerable in our midst. He always found time to visit friends and family who were sick, disabled or imprisoned; he was a dedicated volunteer in the prison literacy/GED instruction program while living in Nashville, Indiana; and those who knew him could cite many examples of the little ways he demonstrated compassion for the marginalized and disadvantaged.
Besides his many accomplishments as a physician, he was also an avid runner. He ran several marathons, including the Boston Marathon and numerous half-marathons, including the inaugural Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, last participating in 2015. He was a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community. Music was a huge part of his life, starting with a high school quartet and moving on to college, community and church groups including the Pine Box Theater in Nashville and Gillduo, which was the musical duo he formed with his beloved wife and accompanist, Nancy.
He is survived by his wife; his daughters, Joy Hicks (James), Sherry Cheek (Jimmy), Beth O’Brien (Chris), Becky McClung (James) and Cristy Coner (Garret); his sisters-in-law, Ann Hedrick and Lucy Gilliland; his brothers-in-law, Merrill Clouse and Carl Stafford (Linda); his grandchildren, Emily, Hilary, Sean, Ben, Kara, Cory, Neil, Jimmy, Nancy, Ellen and Garret Jr.; also, Julie, Jenny, Andrea, Jon, Gretchen, James and Christopher; his great-grandchildren, Norah, Hannah, Ben, Eli and Emma; also Craig Jr., Ethan, Madison, Lucas, Alex, Olivia, Sofia, Max, Lilly and Maddie; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Norma Clouse; his brother, Harold Gilliland; his parents-in-law, Robert and Laura Stafford; and his brother-in-law, Marvin Hedrick.
The Norman Funeral Home in Hope, Indiana, is handling arrangements. The funeral service and the visitation will be at the Hope Moravian Church, 202 Main Street, Hope, Indiana. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13 and the funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, with visitation an hour prior to the service with the Rev. James Hicks, the Rev. Andy Kilps, and the Rev. Doug Bauder officiating. Burial will follow at Hope Moravian Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to:
The Moravian Board of World Mission, P.O. Box 1245, Bethlehem, PA 18016 or Prostate Cancer Research, Indiana University Foundation, P.O. Box 6460, Indpls, IN 46206.
Online condolences may be sent to the Gilliland family at www.normanfunerhome.net.