Cleburne "Hap" Gilliland, Educator and Author, dies at 98. Growing up on a ranch in Colorado fostered Hap Gilliland's passion for exploring nature. His adventures in the mountains and curiosity about the world around him became the basis of his writing and professional work. During World War II while serving in the Army Air Corp, Hap was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines. Here his life-long interest in learning about indigenous people developed. These interests led Hap to travel through many countries on six different continents, writing about his experiences. After earning his Ed.D. from the University of Northern Colorado in 1959, Hap worked as a Professor of Education at Eastern Montana College (now the University of Montana at Billings). At EMC he established the Reading Clinic and mentored generations of elementary educators. Hap was instrumental in developing the Montana Council for Indian Education, which published several hundred children's books written by Native American authors. For many years, he worked with the Lame Deer Public Schools on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Hap wrote five adventure novels, 19 children's books about the lives of Native American people, and 22 college education textbooks. His last book, published in 2015, includes poems he composed over an 85-year period. After his retirement, Hap continued to enjoy traveling, hiking, and writing. He worked as a reading consultant in Alaska, Australia, and New Zealand. He always looked forward to his yearly backpacking trip in the Beartooth Mountains with friends who called themselves the "Over the Hill Gang." Hap was born in 1918 on a homestead near Willard, Colorado. His parents had a mule ranch and taught in a two-room schoolhouse. After marrying his wife, Erma Louise Rodreick in Denver, they moved to Gunnison, Colorado, where Hap completed his Bachelor's and Master's degrees. He taught in Washington and California before settling in Billings in 1960. Hap and Erma were married 70 years. In 2012, the couple moved from Billings to Bozeman to live near their daughter Diane. On Jan. 6, Hap passed away from pneumonia with his wife and family nearby. His children include Lori (Steve) Sargent of Louisville, Kentucky, Diane (Peter) Bakun of Belgrade, and son Dwight (Kristi) Gilliland of Billings who died in 2014. Hap had three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Life will be scheduled in Billings in the spring. Condolences and memories may be shared with Hap's family at www.dahlcares.com.
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