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Love of family, sports a shared passion for 60 years

By: Karen Everett Watson Special to The Press Tribune
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Jim and Dorothy Gillespie, residents of Eskaton Village Roseville have led remarkable lives. Jim spent most of his career as an administrator of physical education in the Campbell School District in the Bay Area. He said his education and career are things he earned the hard way. Jim grew up without a father; something he had in common with his wife, Dorothy. Ironically, both Dorothy and Jim’s fathers left when they were both 3 years old. Both Jim and Dorothy said their successes in life were greatly influenced by caring family members and special mentors. “We had lots of good people in our lives,” Jim said. “After my father left, my sister, Irma and her husband Byron took in my mom and us kids. He (Byron) was a gentle person and taught me a good work ethic, a value system and about honesty.” Working hard came early in life for Jim who enlisted in the Merchant Marines at 14 years of age. He returned to finish his high school education where he first met Dorothy. “I had my eye on her when she was just a kid,” he said. “So, I think I did pretty good. We’ve been married for over 60 years.” Jim joined track in high school and participated in sprints and hurdles. He excelled in both. He ran the 100-yard dash in 9.5 seconds. “I majored in physical education,” Jim said. “I always knew I wanted to coach. You don’t coach a sport, you coach the kids. That’s what you’re there for.” Dorothy also started working at a young age. “I took a job at a dime store when I was 12,” Dorothy said. “My mother always worked at whatever she could so she could be home with me. She took in ironing and odd jobs until I was older. Then she worked at a box factory.” Jim and Dorothy attended the same church and loved going to the beach with their friends. “Back then you did everything in a group,” Dorothy said. Jim and Dorothy were married in 1948 in the church they grew up attending. Dorothy continued working at a doctor’s office while Jim finished his education at San Jose State. He graduated in 1950 and landed his first teaching job in Morgan Hill. “We were thrilled when he got the job,” Dorothy said. “Teaching jobs were hard to come by back then. His first check was $278. And that was for the whole month!” The Gillespie family grew with two sons Tim and Dave. Jim went back to college and earned his master’s degree in educational administration. Jim retired from education in 1984 and they moved in Eskaton Village Roseville last year to be closer to one of their sons. “We decided that Roseville was probably a better fit for us than Nebraska,” Jim said. “We didn’t think we could take a Nebraska winter.” The Gillespies enjoy keeping up with their five grandchildren and are anxiously awaiting the birth of their first great grandchild.