A PUBLICATION OF THE WASHINGTON SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION INC, WASHINGTON, DC
Special Doll Gilliland Memorial Issue
First Friday, December, 1991
Special Doll Gilliland Memorial Issue .... First Friday in December
Regular December, 1991 WSFA Journal ...... Third Friday in December
Dolly died a little after noon today, after a short illness. The doctors told me that she had a stroke (probably on Friday) in the left hemisphere of the cerebellum, and that the bleeding slowly caused swelling and damage to the brainstem. It may not have been the first; last July she had a severe and incapacitating headache that lasted for three weeks, before slowly fading away. At that time she had a full neurological work-up which came out entirely negative. On Friday the same headache came back, only it was different.
I took her to the emergency room at GW Hospital about 1:30 yesterday afternoon, and after diagnosis the medical staff put in a drain and operated late last night. Her doctor called me at seven this morning to tell me that the situation didn't look good, so I went over to the hospital, where the surgeon told me the same thing in a lot more detail. I went home to wait (the waiting room outside the intensive care unit is a terrible place) and the doctor called about 12:30 to say that it was all over.
We had been married 32 years, and I liked her a whole lot even before we were married. The fact that she really enjoyed my jokes might have had something to do with it. Love, too, did not come hard when she was so generous with strokes to the ego. This is something she did naturally, and because she was an excellent listener and very swift to draw inferences, she would often stroke the egos of people she'd just met--resulting in strangers greeting her with genuine enthusiasm when she didn't know who they were without looking at the namebadge.
Dolly was excellent with details, extremely reliable, and invaluable in running the six Disclaves we put on. At work she was an outstanding management analyst, and her Production Control and Evaluation Division was so good that it was officially named "Best In Government" just before the Commissioner dissolved it. Did he feel threatened? You'd best believe it. Her generous spirit is clearly demonstrated by putting up with WSFA meetings in our home for over 24 years. A generosity which sometimes elicited the remark: That's the kind of furniture I'd have if WSFA wasn't meeting in our house! Usually when we were browsing in Bloomingdales or Neiman Marcus.
Among other talents she was a great dancer, a concert pianist, and a jazz pianist, playing in clubs when she was far below the legal age limit. A music teacher by training (at the Lebanon Valley Conservatory) she was also an excellent choral director. She helped me write "Inside 2001, A Space Opera" by telling me stuff I didn't know, like "You can't follow a waltz with another waltz" or, "This is really great, but our singers can't cut it," or "Rearrange the lyric so they aren't singing Eeee on the high note, Aaah is much better." Then she put 2001 on as musical director, first at the '71 Disclave, and again at Discon II and again at Constellation. More recently we went up to Phrolicon 6, and handed out scripts to the audience for a one time run through which was so well received that we did it for 7, too. At that time she promised Sam Moskowitz the Hal 9000 part next year, and no one regrets that he won't get it more than I do.
She taught me how to write, and more important, how to accept criticism of my writing. Her editing, on all levels, from sentence structure to character development to pacing to just about anything you can think of was outstanding. Lester del Rey accepted the last two books of the Wizenbeak trilogy, as she had edited them without altering a word.
She retired from government in '76 with ulcerative colitis, a stress related disease. Showing, perhaps, the dangers of trying to keep GSA on the straight and narrow, but more likely reflecting the cumulative strain of Michael, our first son, who was severely retarded. Michael was placed in the Laurel Children's Center in 1970, and her colitis manifested itself just before we went to Noreascon I in 1971. It slowed her down, with a whole series of pseudo-illnesses, -arthritis, -gout, -etc. -ad nauseam, but she enjoyed travelling, and we took trips she could handle. Mostly they were little ones, (driving to and from cons was often the best part) but we got to England (twice,) Australia and New Zealand, Vancouver and Chattanooga among other exotic places.
E. Dorothea Gilliland, January 20, 1930 - November 27, 1991, is survived by her husband, Alexis A. Gilliland, her father, Kohlman, and her brother, Abba, both of Harrisburg, PA, and by her sons Charles and Michael.