PORTLAND – Leonard Bragdon Gilley, Ph.D., died peacefully on Dec. 20, 2016, in Portland at the age of 87.
Gilley was born on Feb. 28, 1929, in Southwest Harbor. He graduated from Pemetic High School in Southwest Harbor and earned a BA degree in government in 1951 from Bowdoin College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa fraternity. Gilley served in the United States Army during the Korean War from 1952 to 1954. In 1952, while stationed in Munich, Germany, he was selected for the Seventh Army Non-Commissioned Officer Academy and was awarded number one honor graduate of 154 members in the six-week leadership course. Gilley was honorably discharged with commendations at the rank of corporal. He earned an MA degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University in 1961 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver in 1966.
A gifted and prolific writer, Dr. Gilley published three books of poetry: “Hippopotamus and Flowers,” “Confessions and Experiments” and “Lawyer Nead and Other Poems.” He published essays and poems in Midwest Quarterly, The New York Times, Southwest Review, Laurel Review, Verb, Descant, Prairie Schooner and many other periodicals. His work was noted by the Maine Author Collection for its “imagery and imagination… power and humor.” He was a passionate reader and exuberant conversationalist and letter writer, and enthusiastically shared ideas with everyone in his life.
Dr. Gilley was also a generous and inspiring professor of English and creative writing. Laughter, lively discussion, and readings of original student work were regularly heard in his classrooms, and many of his students felt motivated to pursue writing after graduation. Dr. Gilley held teaching positions at Johns Hopkins University, Washington College, the University of Denver and Bloomsburg State College. He taught at the University of Maine at Farmington for more than 20 years and retired there as professor emeritus. He energetically continued his extensive reading and his most important work as a creative writer for the next 27 years.
Dr. Gilley was predeceased by his wife, Daima Turner Gilley, and his parents, Wendell Gilley and Addie Gilley. Dr. Gilley is survived by his three children, Anne Gilley of New York, N.Y., Amy Gilley of Durango, Colo., Tom Gilley of North Yarmouth, and his grandson Scott Gilley of North Yarmouth.
Dr. Gilley will be cremated and his remains will be interred beside his wife at Mount Height Cemetery in Southwest Harbor. No services will be held. To share memories and condolences with the family, please go to www.athutchins.com.
The family would like to thank the staff at Birchwoods at Canco for their efforts to create a loving community that kept him comfortable during his stay. The family would also like to thank Hospice of Southern Maine for all their care and support.