By DON McINTOSH
Former Oregon AFSCME President Gary Gillespie died Aug. 27 at age 70. Gillespie served Oregon working people and residents of Eugene for more than three decades, and was a strong advocate for people with disabilities and for public transit.
Born in Savannah, Georgia on Dec. 13, 1951, Gary Lamont Gillespie spent most of his childhood outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. After attending University of Cincinnati, he moved to Eugene in 1977. He worked with students with disabilities at Lane Education Service District, and got active in AFSCME. He later managed a supported employment agency for individuals with disabilities. He went to work for the City of Eugene in 1987, first as an administrative assistant, and later as a library assistant at the Eugene Public Library. In both jobs he was involved in his union, AFSCME Local 1724, and served as its president for nine years. From 2001 to 2013, he was president of Oregon AFSCME. He also served on the Oregon AFL-CIO executive board and was active in the Lane County Labor Council. He was also involved in his neighborhood, and served as president of Fairmount Neighbors Association and the South University Neighborhood Association. And he served on the board of Alternative Work Concepts, a supported employment agency for individuals with disabilities.
A regular bus rider, he was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski to serve on the board of Lane Transit District, and represented Central and West Eugene from 2011 through 2017. On the transit board, he helped develop Eugene’s EmX bus rapid transit system, served on its Human Relations Committee, and was a trustee on the LTD Pension Trusts.
He is remembered for his sense of humor, his love of music, and passion for community and workers rights. A celebration of life was held Oct. 29 at the Eugene Public Library.
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