Commander Orville Lee Gilchrist, USN, Ret., passed away at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis on Saturday, Oct. 21, after a long illness. He was 88.
Commander Gilchrist was born in Adamsville on Aug. 15, 1929, the youngest child of Grover and Virl Gilchrist.
He was preceded in death by his siblings, Eldon, Aaron, James, Walstine and Christine. He married the former Carolyn Nell White on Aug. 12, 1950, and was her loyal partner until her passing on May 30, 2012.
He graduated from Adamsville High School in 1947 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy in November 1948. He rose through the enlisted ranks as an aviation mechanic and attended Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, where he was commissioned in January 1960. He retired at the rank of Commander in December 1978. His final duty assignment was as the commanding officer of the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Division at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Maryland. Throughout his 30 year naval career he also served on the aircraft carriers USS Midway and USS Kearsarge, and at naval facilities in San Diego, California; Jacksonville, Florida; Goodyear, Arizona; Barber’s Point, Hawaii; Iwakuni, Japan; Millington, Tennessee; Sigonella, Italy; Norfolk, Virginia; Milton, Florida; Cubi Point, Philippines; and Pensacola, Florida. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, the Secretary of the Navy Medal for personal achievement and the Meritorious Service Medal, along with numerous other awards and citations.
Upon retirement from active duty, he returned with his family to live in Adamsville in 1979 and was employed by Aqua-Glass Corporation until 1986. He was a beloved member of the Adamsville community. He served on the board of the Quinco Mental Health Center and as regional secretary for the Private Industry Council. He was a descendant of early settlers of McNairy and Hardin counties and was active in the Hardin County Historical Society and Tennessee Genealogical Society. He also served as president of Adamsville Lions Club and was a long-time elder of Mt. Sharon Presbyterian Church in Gilchrist. At the time of his passing he was one of the longest tenured members of the church.
He is survived by his children Lea Edwards Gilchrist of Portsmouth, Virginia; Lisa Carol Gilchrist Mischke of Germantown, Tennessee; and Grover Craig Gilchrist of Sandy Springs, Georgia; along with their spouses, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Orville Gilchrist is remembered by those who knew him best as someone who could diagnose and fix anything mechanical, as a paragon of devotion to his wife, as a gentle and loving father, and as a dedicated member of his community and church.
Vistation will be held on Thursday, Oct. 26, from 11 a.m. until services at 1 p.m., all held at Mt. Sharon Presbyterian Church, Gilchrist, at 1 p.m.
Memorials may be sent to Mt. Sharon Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 801, Adamsville, Tenn. 38310 or Page Robbins Center, 1961 S. Houston Levee Road, Collierville, Tenn. 38017. Arrangements by Shackelford Funeral Directors of Selmer, 731-645-3481.