1926 – 2015

SOUTH PARIS — Gilman Bertrand Whitman, 88, passed on peacefully on Tuesday, March 17, at the Veterans’ Home in South Paris.

He was born in Portsmouth, N.H. on Oct. 26. 1926, to Gerald Bertrand and Jessie Veasey Whitman.

He was attending school at Essex Agricultural Institute in Danvers, Mass., majoring in floriculture and ornamental horticulture when he was drafted on his birthday in 1944, but they deferred him for four months to finish his coursework. He graduated at the top of his class.

He was inducted into the Armed Services at Fort Williams and then shipped to Fort Devens in Massachusetts. He had advanced infantry training and was in the South Pacific during World War II. He was the provost sergeant in a stockade in Leyte, Philippines, supervising Japanese prisoners of war. He was discharged in 1946.

Gil returned to Maine in the spring of 1947. He worked in the woods and in a saw mill in Bryant Pond. He bought a house in Bryant Pond in 1948 and built a ski tow in 1949.

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Gil purchased a store from Ray Langway in Locke Mills in 1949 and also married Elizabeth Noyes of Locke Mills that year. They sold the store in 1953.

That same year, they purchased some land on Route 26 in Bryant Pond and built the Maine Wildlife Den, filling it with animals, birds and reptiles.

He was Deputy Sheriff of Oxford County, serving in the courtroom at South Paris. He served as state representative in the 99th Legislature in 1958 to 1961. He was majority floor leader for the 100th Legislature.

In the 1960s, he was a member of the Balladeers Barbershop Quartet, which performed throughout the state.

He was Oxford County agent for 4-H Clubs and traveled all over the state. He enjoyed working with the young people.

Gil worked as a carpenter and electrician, and also learned blacksmithing for a few years. Liz was an RN and worked in the hospitals and did private duty. In 1964, they bought a house in Edgecomb and relocated there. He did renovations there and opened The Yankee Craftsman and the Lincoln Forge. One of his first commissions was a very large gate for an ancient cemetery in Bristol.

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His first exposure on the international scene was Expo 67 at the World’s Fair in Montreal. He had his first one-man show in Pittsburg, Pa., at the International Art Gallery in October 1970.

He created the wrought-iron handrails in Wiscasset, many weathervanes and small bronzes of hockey players. He was commissioned by the Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Team for a life-size reenactment of a goalie scoring called “Score.” It was installed outside the Spectrum Stadium in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1976.

He changed the name of his gallery from Yankee Craftsman to Gil Whitman Gallery in 1977 and displayed his many ornamental sculptures on his lawn.

Gil created many line sculptures for area churches, installing chandeliers, lights and 3D relief work. He created a bronze wildflower collection for the blind, complete with earphones for descriptions.

He created a tiger swallowtail sculpture, which still stands in front of the Whitman Library in Bryant Pond, and the final big work, the candlestick phone at Remembrance Park in Bryant Pond, which was installed there in 2008. Gil moved back to Bryant Pond in 1998.

Gil was a member of Jackson Silver American Legion, Jefferson Chapter Masons and the Locke Mills Union Church.

He is survived by his nieces, Deb Hays and Sandy Whitman; his nephews, Gerald Bertrand Macaulay and William Arthur Macaulay; grandnephews, Aaron, David, Jesse and Mathew Macaulay and Michael Albano; and grandniece, Amy Albano.

Condolences can be expressed at www.chandlerfunerals.com.

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