Robert Vernon Gillum passed away at age 81, with his wife, Judith Sue Gillum, at his side, in their Boulder home on November 19, 2019. Only months later, on June 18, 2020, Judy, age 79, passed away, also at home surrounded by friends. It is fitting that this obituary about Robert and Judy be written as one, as their marriage of 50 years was all about being together.
Robert, born in Indiana on March 19, 1938 and Judy, born in Medford, Oregon on October 10, 1940 met at a “love-in” in San Francisco. Robert proposed after only a few days and their love lasted the rest of their lives. They moved to Colorado in 1981, spending the next 38 years growing and nurturing what became known as their very large “tribe of friends.”
Robert was a quiet, intelligent, and well-read man with a storehouse of both profound and trivial knowledge. If Judy (or a friend visiting) had a question about virtually anything, the answer was always “Ask Robert!” For 24 years, Robert was a chef for the University of Colorado residence halls. Not only did hundreds of students enjoy Robert’s incredible cooking, but the Gillum’s house was always a gathering place for sharing friendships and exceptional feasts (who didn’t love Robert’s famous lasagna?) Their annual Winter Solstice party was always anticipated and appreciated as a wonderful time to renew friendships and meet the new friends Judy and Robert had added to their “tribe.”
Judy was a woman of many talents, interests and impeccable taste. She will be remembered mostly, however, for her giving and loving heart. Whether in her career (as a buyer for a retail store, a postal carrier in San Francisco and Boulder plus many years as a networking entrepreneur) or with all her relationships, she always displayed a common thread – developing close friendships, enriched by her rare ability to listen closely and lovingly to each person and taking note of the details of their lives. She never forgot a birthday or anniversary and she sent more than 300 holiday cards each year (each with an individual note). The last days of Judy’s life were spent cataloguing and sorting the hundreds of cards and photos she had kept, which she wanted to return to each friend.
While Judy’s domain was definitely their world of friends, Robert’s domain was not only the kitchen, but he also cared for their gorgeous yard. It was a true oasis – filled with flowers, birdhouses, and statues. They traveled extensively and their welcoming home and beautiful yard were decorated with artifacts from all over the world.
Judy is survived by her brother John Dawson and his wife Caroline of Portland, Oregon; brother-in-law Jim Seitz of Milwaukee, Oregon and their families. Judy and Robert’s ashes, along with those of their infant daughter, Heather, will be interred with the Dawson family in The Dalles, Oregon.
Though Robert and Judy’s unconditionally generous and loving spirits will be missed by all, they will truly live on in the hearts and memories of so many.