After 54 years of compassionate and immeasurable care as a dentist, Dr. George Edward Gillian saw his final patient on Friday, April 8th. He passed away at home on the following morning of April 9th, 2016.
Dr. Gillian was born in the Ozarks near Clarksville, Arkansas on November 16th, 1935 to Hiram and Maudie Gillian. He moved to Conway in his childhood; a town that would become the cornerstone of his transition from an adventurous youth to an ambitious adult. It also was the foundation to his legendary storytelling, which transfixed, humored, and bewildered his audiences throughout his lifetime. His partner in adventure was his late older brother Weldon, who accompanied him through Tom Saywer-esque escapades. One of his most notorious capers was of travelling to Mexico on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle at the age of 15.
He graduated from Conway High School and received a bachelor of arts degree from Hendrix College. He played trumpet in both high school and college. In 1961 he obtained his dental surgery degree from the University of Tennessee, where he was awarded Dean’s List academic honors. While in dental school, Dr. Gillian was a member of the professional fraternity Xi Psi Phi. He was selected to be a member of the Richard Doggett & Marguerite Taylor Dean Odonatological Honorary Society and served as a historian. Following graduation, he was commissioned in the Navy Dental Corps. He was first stationed in Great Lakes, Michigan and completed his service with the First Marine Brigade in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
While in dental school in Memphis, Dr. Gillian met, fell in love with, and married Vivian Marie Finley, his wife of 53 years. After Hawaii, the couple moved to Little Rock where he began his dental practice. His quiet but strong Christian faith led him to become active in leadership roles in church, beginning as UMY director at Markham Methodist Church and later with the Forum Sunday School at St. James United Methodist Church. In 1973, Dr. Gillian was elected vice president of the Pulaski County Dental Society. He also served multiple terms on the school board at Pulaski Academy.
Outside of his work and volunteer services, Dr. Gillian loved to dance. He was always the first one up and the last to leave the dance floor. He was also known for his snappy dress, a trait he honed while working at a men’s clothing and tailor shop in college. He lived for being in nature. After spending most of his childhood running through uncharted woods, caves and streams with friends and family, he took every chance to relive those times as an adult. From Petit Jean and Little Piney, to Mt. Nebo, Buffalo River and Lake Ouachita, he would pass along his endless knowledge of flora and fauna to his three sons with the same boundless wonderment and excitement he had as a boy.
On a personal level, Dr. Gillian led by quiet example, upholding time-tested reverence for respect, dignity, and kindness to his family, friends, and strangers alike.
Dr. Gillian was preceded by his parents Hiram and Maudie, and brother Weldon. His is survived by his wife Vivian Marie Gillian, three sons, Dr. George Kevin Gillian (Dr. Monjari) and grandchildren Blake and Serena of Alexandria Virginia, Dr. Kris Finley (Reema) Gillian and grandchildren Rowan and Ava of Atlanta Georgia, Mr. Kipp Edward (Tani) Gillian and grandchildren Ian and Tara of Long Beach, California, nephew Mr. Jay (Laura) Gillian of Dallas, Texas and their children Giana and Maggie.
Memorials in Dr. Gillian’s memory may be made to St. James United Methodist Church or to one’s desired charitable group.