On Thanksgiving morning, we lost a true gentleman. Ronald Jerome Gilliam (Ron), 82, passed away on November 24, 2022 of age-related complications under hospice care. Ron was born on August 24, 1940 to James Delano and Belvia (Dotson) Gilliam in Wise, Virginia. He was the second born in a family of six children. His father worked in the coal mining industry. When Ron was fourteen, the family moved to Ajo, Arizona for warmer weather and employment opportunities in copper mining.
Ron played football and showed strong leadership skills in his high school years and graduated from Ajo High School in 1958. Three days after graduation, he and three of his friends enlisted in the United States Marine Corp. His years in the Marines were spent on the USS Missouri Battleship as head of marine detachment primarily serving in Asian waters. He was honorably discharged as a Lance Corporal and returned to Ajo where he began a career in the open pit copper mining industry with Phelps Dodge. He was an electrical department supervisor with the company. It was there that he met his dear “Patsy”, Patricia Jones and soon began their married life. Ron played semi-pro baseball in Ajo against various teams in Mexico. He also took up judo and became a certified instructor. In 1968, he was transferred with Phelps to Peru, and the family, which included stepson, Joey and son Greg, lived there for the next seven years. When the political situation became unstable and dangerous, the family moved to Jefferson City, Tennessee for the next twenty-two years where Ron continued in the mining industry, as part of management and finally, a consulting position. He started playing golf while in Peru, where golf courses had no grass, just compacted dirt. In Tennessee, while he was consulting, he also took a position at the local golf course and became enamored with the sport. In 1999, Ron, Pat and Greg moved to Marana, AZ to The Highlands at Dove Mountain, an active adult retirement community on a top-rated golf course just north of Tucson. He was known as one of the top golfers in the community for many years and was the Club Champion four different times.
Ron was a highly respected, kind and a true gentleman in every sense of the word. Pat said he had the best jokes and told them better than anyone! His loving devotion to her was a beautiful example up to his very last days.
Ron is survived by his wife Patricia of 62 years, stepson Joseph Mulleneaux (Leticia) and three step-grandchildren of Maricopa, son Gerald Gregory of Marana and brothers, Gerald and Phillip of the Phoenix area, and twin sisters, Brenda of North Carolina and Glenda of Florida. He was predeceased by his parents and brother, James.
A Celebration of Life will be held on January 27, 2023 at 3:00pm in the Catalina Room at the Highlands Golf and Country Club at 4949 W Heritage Club Blvd., Marana, AZ 85658. All are invited to attend.