William Humphrey Gilmore died peacefully at home on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, under Hospice care surrounded by his loving family. Bill’s passing on Tuesday morning ended his long and tough battle against cancer. He was born in Peoria, Illinois on Nov. 20, 1936 to William Perry Gilmore and Joy MacMahon Gilmore. At age six, Bill’s father passed away, and his grandparents Lola and George Gilmore stepped in to help raise him. Two years later, his mother married Donald Roebling of Clearwater, Fla. Bill attended both North and South Ward Elementary Schools in Clearwater, The Warrenton Stuyvesant Boarding School in Virginia, and graduated from Staunton Military Academy.
As a teen Bill was an avid horseman riding his horse at Warrenton Hunt Club events and learned to sail in a Clark Mills Optimist Pram in his pool and Clearwater Bay. At age 13 he was with his friend Hugh when he first saw Hemmie visiting for the summer from New York and quickly called dibs, telling Hugh, “There’s the girl I’m going to marry!”
After a year at the University of Florida he served in the U.S. Navy for four years. Soon after returning home in Clearwater he married Hemmie at Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church in January, 1960. A year later they moved to Gainesville where Bill finished his college degree in Advertising with a minor in Philosophy at the University of Florida while they started and quickly grew a family with three sons, Jerry, Will and Jim.
Bill and his young family moved back to Clearwater where he worked in various jobs while developing a business plan and commissioning the “Double Eagle” a radical new commercial fishing vessel built by Clark Mills in 1967, the first catamaran licensed in Florida by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry passengers off-shore. Two years later, a second catamaran, the “Double Eagle II,” joined the fleet. Clark Mills also designed and built a bright yellow 53’ three-masted schooner named “Sunflower” that docked at Clearwater Beach Marina and became the home for Bill’s family of five for several years of sailing adventure and exploration along the coast of Florida.
Bill and his family were avid outdoor enthusiasts. When the boys were young, they travelled across the country visiting National Parks over the course of several months in a VW camper, testing their ability to live in close quarters. In 1977, they sailed to Maine on “Sunflower” where Bill worked as an Outward Bound Instructor and Hemmie and Jerry completed 26-day courses, Will a 10-day course. The boys were homeschooled. A year later the family moved to Littleton, N.H. where all three sons attended The White Mountain School as day-students. A foster son, Bill Sanders, joined the family’s crew of teenagers in 1980. The four boys learned to rock and ice climb, and spent many days exploring the north country’s hiking and skiing trails with their parents and friends.
Their love of travel and adventure continued, with trips to Europe, South America and the Caribbean. They traveled by car and motorcycle tours and on a number of beautiful sailboats that carried Bill and his family to magical faraway places many people only dream of. At times Bill sailed solo, and for other legs he was with Hemmie, family and friends as he explored continents, islands and met people of all cultures.
Over time, Bill and Hemmie’s family grew, as the boys became men, married and had children of their own. Through his grandchildren, Bill was able to share his knowledge, focus on learning and inner reflection with another generation. His grandchildren have been gifted with the benefit of friendship, mentoring, education, creative expression, movies, walks, sails and quiet times of reflection and self-consideration and unconditional love.
His wanderlust led him on a series of sails to Europe and the Caribbean and a three-year circumnavigation of the southern hemisphere around the globe and back to Littleton, N.H. where he felt the view of the Presidential Range from the deck of him own home was as beautiful as anywhere he’d seen.
Through his adventures and times of reflection, Bill’s focus was on finding a life that was filled with meaning. His searching and introspection carried him to limitless places and had a fundamental influence on those closest to him as he shared contemplations about life’s meaning and encouraged others to explore their personal connection as part of their world. His biggest concerns that affected those who knew him was his unwavering consideration of others. He believed in the interconnections and oneness of everything, most especially in the people around him. Bill’s generosity of spirit has touched everyone in his life and beyond.
He leaves behind his wife Hemmie, Jerry and Ania and Jerry’s son Scott and Ania’s daughter Monika; Will and Linda and their children Kyllan and Tiegan; Jim and Debbie and their daughter Destinee recently married to Tom Britto; and foster son Bill Sanders and his son Billy.
Phaneuf Funeral Homes & Crematorium is in charge of arrangements.