P. Roger Gillette
P. Roger Gillette May 12, 1917 - March 2, 2017 During his undergraduate days at Cornell College Roger was recruited by the track coach to fill an empty slot on relay the team. Yet it was his quick mind and loving heart that enabled him to successfully complete the long relay of his nearly 100 year long life and faithfully carry forward ideals and values that serve the common good. Having an intellectual and scientific bent of mind he earned his Bachelor of Arts, Bachelors of Science, Masters degrees and then completed his Phd. in physics and engineering during the daunting early days of World War II. The government recognized that the best use of Roger's gifts would be in working with other physicists to insure the scientific supremacy of the allied forces, so he worked at MIT in the radiation lab doing research he was never at liberty to discuss. He went on to have a successful career as a physicist and systems engineer, yet the successes that counted most for him were the ones he found in his loving relationships, his personal philosophical and religious explorations and his philanthropic endeavors. Roger found a loving mate in Bettelaine (Betty) in 1947 and they were the proud parents of Kenneth Lee and Sandra Jo. Loving others always poses the painful risk of losing them, and Roger was predeceased by his wife, then his adult daughter and most recently his adult son. He was blessed to have loving familial support from his niece Caroline Ashton and his honorary daughters Diane Copeland Bosworth and Roxanne Copeland as well as the countless friends he made during his fruitful life. Although he officially retired at the age of 75, Roger never retired from his quest to find truth and meaning. He was always striving to build bridges between the worlds of science and religion (his thoughts on these subjects found their way into print in scholarly journals) and he frequently found opportunities to share these views amongst his fellow Unitarian Universalists. He was committed to life long learning and participated in Willamette University's Institute of Continued Learning, the Westar Institute - promoting religious literacy, American Academy of Religion, Institute on Religion in the Age of Science. He was always refining his personal theological statement of belief and was seeking new ways to faithfully embody his values (his reverence for all life led him to become vegetarian in his latter years). Then, too, Roger was extraordinarily generous to the educational, environmental, cultural and religious institutions that promoted his life affirming values. It has been noted that "the great use of a life is to spend it on something that outlasts it." Simply put, Roger's life was wisely and well spent, and thus, we are immeasurably enriched. A celebration of Roger's life will be held on Sunday March 19 at 3 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation/ 5090 Center St., NE, Salem, OR.
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