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Spencer John Gill ’42

A picture of Spencer Gill

Spencer John Gill ’42, March 15, 2012, in Portland. Spencer earned a BA in general literature, writing the thesis “William Blake as Revolutionary” with his academic adviser, Lloyd Reynolds [English & art 1929–69]. In 1943, with Lloyd’s assistance, he eloped with Josephine Bestul, his lifelong partner, with whom he raised three daughters, Susan Gill Farber ’65, Christine Gill Jeibmann MAT ’70, and Gretchen Sperling. (Three decades later, Spencer led the effort to have Reynolds recognized as Calligrapher Laureate of Oregon, assisted by Jean McCall Babson ’42, sister of then-Oregon governor Tom McCall.) During World War II, Spencer served in the military. In 1954, he was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Mike Munk ’56 reports that although Spencer admitted to having attended Reed, along with David Gregg ’54 and David Lapham ’60, he refused political interrogation. Spencer made his career as a writer and editor and lived with his family in Switzerland for six years, where he worked as director of publications for Investors Overseas Services in Geneva. He wrote and published numerous books, including Turquoise Treasures, Pottery Treasures, Portland: Image of A City, Washington Shores, and Vegetable Gardening the Chinese Way. He also served as a writer for the design team that created Portland’s Pioneer Square. Survivors include his daughters, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2012

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