The community of Lake George came out in large numbers May 29, 2020 to honor the life of Robert Carr Gilley, who passed away April 29. “Our Dad, Grandpy, and Grand-paw had Lake George running through his blood,” said his children Randy and Mary Jane.
In tribute to Gilley’s life and legacy, over 300 classic cars and trucks, tractors on trailers, six Lake George Fire Protection District trucks and a limousine gathered at the Community Park in Lake George and drove the 27 miles of County Road 77 to Tarryall Reservoir and back.
Several people also sat in their driveways along CR 77 and put tractors with signs displaying their affection and waving as the procession passed by.
Gilley was a lifelong resident of Lake George, born to Clyde and Gladys Mae (Joghin) Gilley, Feb. 2, 1947. His paternal grandparents homesteaded on the west side of Wilkerson Pass and his parents eventually bought their own ranch a little over four miles from U.S. Highway 24 on CR 77.
Gilley and his three brothers, Thomas, Charles and Bill, made wonderful memories on the ranch that Bob always cherished. In his youth he worked for Charlie and Lillian Robinson at the Ute Trails Store, which is now the Broadmoor Fishing Club. He told people that the Robinsons treated him like a prince and warmed up rocks for his bed at night when he slept over.
After his father passed away, the family briefly moved to Canon City. Bob got very interested in shop class and built his first “Hot Rod.” In 1967, Bob joined the Army, but was given a sibling deferment, which kept him from Vietnam. He was honorably discharged in 1969 and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal.
Following his service, Bob and his brother Thomas attended the Denver Automotive and Diesel College and Bob worked on and off for his Great Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Lawson Sumner at the Lake George General Store, now Granite Canyon General Store and at the Divide Service Shop for Dave Doughtery.
After college he moved back to his beloved Lake George, purchased a house that once belonged to another great aunt and uncle and he and his brother Thomas started Bob’s Auto Service in 1972.
At that time, it was said that Bob put a silver dollar in his pocket so he would always have a dollar to his name and he carried that dollar for the rest of his life.
While working at the Divide Service Shop, he met Patricia Jane Hayes, who put a dent in his 1956 Chevrolet Nomad, which was driven in the memorial procession. They were married in 1976 and took their honeymoon to Durango to purchase a 1956 Chevy Bel-Air, which was also in the procession.
They continued their life in Lake George. Bob ran his automotive shop, did towing and auto-body, and ranching on the side.
Bob leaves behind to cherish his memory his loving children Randy (Erin) Gilley of Lake George, Mary Jane (Luke) Morris of Parker, and his adored grandchildren, Ivan, Ella Jane, Lydia, Patrick and Maverick, brothers Thomas, Charles and William Gilley of Lake George, as well as a host of sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and more friends than he could count.
In 1994 he bought and took over the Travel Port Campground and was the third owner in fifty years. A few years ago, bicycles and old farm equipment started showing up along his property fence line.
Gilley said that people started giving him bicycles and he started placing them along the fence. The bikes kept coming and recently the count was over 125. Among the bikes stands an automated dinosaur that one of the many campers at the Travel Port made from scrap and gave to Gilley.
It now stands like a sentinel among the bikes rotating slowly as if to greet onlookers. People donated the farm equipment, too.
Bob referred to himself as semi-retired, but boasted that it gave ample opportunity to spoil the grandkids, continue to collect antiques, cars and tractors, which led to what he referred to as his, “Christmas in August,” that being the Lake George Tractor Pull.
According to his daughter in law, Erin, the family wanted to give the community an opportunity to show their affection for Bob, and because of his love for classic cars and tractors, they decided to organize the first Memorial Cruise and invited those who loved Bob to honor is life and memory.
Robert VerHey brought his John Deere tractor to the procession, saying, “For thirty-five years, Bob was my best friend. We ran cows together, hunted, and other things, he was a dear, dear man.”
Ed Adams said he met Gilley when he inquired about pasture for his cows. “Found out he had four old cars and I had two and we shared other interests, so we ended up being a couple of bolt benders and kept things running,” said Adams, reminiscing on the friendship of many years. He honored Gilley in the procession with his 1965 Ford F100.
Anyone interested in a Bob Gilley memorial T-shirt, can contact Twin Bears Company at 719-685-1360 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Payment can be made on the phone and they will ship or you can pick them up at their store at 4 Canon Ave. in Manitou Springs. T-shirts are available for men, women, and kids and they also have hoodies. They will print on red, black or white. Ordering will be open for one week, and once they collect all the orders, they will start production.
Bob Gilley loved Lake George, his family, his friends, old cars, tractors and antiques.
And on a sunny Friday, they all loved him back and honored his memory in a grand way.
On the commemorative patch it reads, “loved beyond words – missed beyond measures.”