Merle Lester Gilson, affectionately known as "Gilly" or "Walleye", born April 6, 1930, found peace on Saturday, November 17, 2018 as he gazed out over his beloved Lake Metonga.
He was the oldest of three children born to Mildred (Pahnke) and Lester Gilson in Green Bay, WI. He graduated from East High School in 1948 and began his 42 year career at Northern Paper Mill, later known as American Can and Fort James. From 1951 to 1955, he served his country in the US Air Force, traveling as far away as Japan and finishing his tour at Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME. It is there that he met the first love of his life, Irene Burtt, on a blind date. Together they shared 42 years together before she passed away in 1996. In 1997, Gilly met the second love of his life, Kathy Becker, in Crandon, WI. They married on October 20, 2008 and just celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.
Merle was an avid bowler from the 1950’s through the 1990’s, racking up some pretty impressive scores. His highest series was 784. He was fortunate enough to have called some of the finest bowlers in Green Bay’s history his friends.
“Walleye” was also a great or at least a “Diehard” fisherman. There were many days where you would find him staring the lake down waiting for the perfect time to go out and catch dinner. He took great pains to make sure he passed his “knowledge” of fishing on to his children and later to his son-in-law; Corby, and more recently to his grandchildren. There is a certain way to jig! A certain way to cast! And probably a certain way to drop the darn anchor!!!
In later years, Gilly decided to golf more often. The fairways were always straight, and his putter became a work of art. He became a member of The Nicolet Golf Course in Laona, had his own golf cart, and became a “regular” of sorts. In 2003, Gilly was rewarded with a “Hole-in-One” on the 16th hole at the Nicolet Country Club in Laona. It was his crowning moment.
He is lovingly survived by his wife, Kathy; 4 daughters and sons-in-law: Mary (Greg) Corbisier, Sharon Naniot (Steve Glaser), Terry (Brian) Huff and Laurie Gilson; 1 son and daughter-in-law, Michael (Cheryl) Gilson, 8 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Further survived by one brother, Richard (Claire) Gilson; brother-in-law, Robert Rukamp; brother-in-law, Harold Burtt; sister-in-law, Patricia Farrell; sister-in-law, Maureen Blasi; many nieces and nephews and close friends.
Gilly was preceded in death by his parents; first wife, Irene; his great-grandson, Carter Jon Thyes; his sister, Marilyn Rukamp; Irene’s 6 brothers and their spouses and Kathy’s brothers-in-law.
Visitation will be held at Newcomer-Green Bay Chapel (340 S. Monroe Ave., Green Bay), Friday, November 23, 2018 from 4-7 PM. A funeral service will follow at 7 PM with full military honors.
The family would like to thank Ascension Hospice/ Rhinelander and Aspirius Home Health for their compassionate care. Dad’s family would also like to thank the many close friends and neighbors who took the time to stop in and visit or to give Kathy a break so she could take some time for herself and get out and enjoy the world around her even if it was for just a little while. Your kind actions did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
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