Walter “Gene” Gilstrap

Walter “Gene” Gilstrap, 80, passed away peacefully at his home in Brookville on Wednesday, October 8, 2015. Gene leaves behind his beautiful wife Wilma of 45 years. Gene and Wilma were married on September 5, 1970.

Gene was born on Nov. 25, 1934, in Atlanta, Ga., a son of the late Lon Bright and Mary Emma (Fanning) Gilstrap. Gene was the last surviving member of his immediate family.

Mr. Gilstrap was an incredible man with a sense of humor and fun-loving spirit to match his larger-than-life personality. His passion was the railroad where he worked for 36 years before retiring, some 27 years ago. Gene literally started at the bottom when he was just 17 years old as a “messenger boy” and worked his way to the top as the Vice President for Operations.

There is no doubt that Gene clearly understood the meaning of hard work and perseverance. During Gene’s tenure with the railroad, he and his lovely wife Wilma traveled extensively, living in many different states, a requirement of his position. Despite never really establishing “roots” in a community until his retirement, Wilma and Gene never left each other’s side supporting one another throughout their many years together, and their many years of constant change brought on by the demands of the various positions held by Gene with the railroad.

Upon retirement from the railroad, Gene kept himself busy in a host of endeavors. When not working, he enjoyed his time with Wilma. Although he “grumbled” a bit about it, Gene was the “de facto” groundskeeper of the family home, which together, he and Wilma manicured to absolute perfection. Gene also loved traveling to Salamanca, N.Y. to the casinos; he enjoyed golfing, and was an avid fisherman; particularly, bass fishing. It was reported that he once tried trout fishing, but it just wasn’t the same as bass fishing so he gave it up. Gene was also very social and enjoyed the company of his many friends. His sense of humor was second-to-none as he loved to laugh embracing life to the fullest.

Mr. Gilstrap also served his country as a U.S. Navy veteran serving during the Korean Conflict.

Gene is survived by his beautiful wife, Wilma and a daughter, Mary Catherine Brusker and her husband Glen of Jacksonville, Florida.

Gene was preceded in death by his parents; a daughter, Joyce Ann Gilstrap; three brothers, Roy, Bright, and Lon Gilstrap, Jr.; and three sisters, Alice Gilstrap, Mary Gray, and Nell Johnston.
In keeping with the family’s wishes, Mr. Gilstrap’s funeral arrangements were private and under the direction of the Brenda D. Shumaker Funeral Home, Inc. of Brookville.

Mr. Gilstrap is interred at Crest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Smyrna, Georgia.

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