In memory of
John Allen Gilmore, 75, died Sunday, April 12, 2020 at his home in Fort Bragg, California after a yearlong battle with Alzheimers disease. He was born in Lawton, OK on November 25, 1944. After his father Loren returned home from serving in the US Army in WWII, he and his mother Mary Ann moved the young family to Peewaukee, WI. When John was 7, the family moved to Glen Ellyn, IL, where he graduated from Glenbard West High School in 1962. He had begun piano as a child, and by the time he was in high school, he had formed a jazz ensemble. Unbeknown to his parents, John would sneak off to hear the beboppers in Chicago's south side jazz clubs. After beginning tertiary education at Oberlin College in both English and Music studies, he transferred to Indiana University for its then rare jazz program under David Baker where his trio won a national competition to perform at the Newport Jazz Festival. After graduating, John moved back to Chicago to pursue a doctorate in English Literature at the University of Chicago. He supported himself by driving a cab and playing in a small ensemble, "City Lights." While being increasingly pulled into the fight for social justice during the height of the anti-war movement, he kept up his involvement in avant-garde jazz, working with musicians such as Muhal Richard Abrams and Anthony Braxton. In the early '70s, John went to work at the Abraxas Foundation in Pennsylvania, a program offering an alternative to prison for first-time offenders. He moved to the Mendocino Coast in the mid '70s and quickly became a fixture in the local jazz scene. He met his wife Salina (nee Mera) of 30 years while playing piano at the Caspar Inn in 1975. Seven years later he moved in with her and her 3 children. In 1985 they had a son and were married at their home in 1990. He began teaching Music at Dana Gray Elementary and continued to educate and inspire young musicians for 25 years before his retirement. He was the most loving and caring of older brothers. A 7-year age gap separated him from his 3 siblings, and he never ceased to act as a magical, imaginative "uncle," always patient and inventive. At his request his body was donated to the UCSF School of Medicine where he can continue to be a source of education for young minds. When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said "he was a slow learner, but he kept on trying." He is survived by his wife Salina, son Loren of Chicago, IL, stepson Gitan (Xia) Whelan of Redding, CA, stepdaughters Madrone Whelan and Majica Alba of Sacramento, CA, sister Laurie (William) Perkins of Elk Grove Village, IL, and brothers Donald (Henrietta) of Milford, NJ, and Scott (partner Kris Jarantoski) of Chicago, IL.
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