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City mourns loss of icon
Prepared city for the future
1-Pete Gilleland mug
Gilleland

A man who spent nearly four decades serving the city of Dawsonville died Monday at age 92 following a period of declining health.

Born about 10 miles outside of town, G. L. "Pete" Gilleland and his family moved to Dawsonville when he was 7.

"They just finished Hwy. 9 then," he said during a 2010 interview. "They was using mules and carts and sand and gravel out of the river bottom for the road."

Years later, Gilleland took what he learned growing up in Dawsonville to set the stage for the city's future.

Mayor Joe Lane Cox called Gilleland "a Dawsonville icon" and "one of a kind."

"He did what he had to [in order to] prepare us for what we have today," Cox said. "He held Dawsonville together when times were hard.

"We had to crawl before we could walk, and he put us through that crawling stage."

First elected to the city council in 1966, Gilleland resigned 12 years later when the city needed someone to maintain its water system. He held that post for 16 years.

Gilleland was later elected mayor, serving from 1996 to 2003.

Cox said Gilleland "never gave up on Dawsonville" even when times were tough.

"I think there were many years that he didn't even get paid," Cox said. "I've also heard that when the city was low on money that he'd pay the power bill himself to the keep the lights on."

In 2007, the city council publically recognized Gilleland's contributions to Dawsonville by naming its meeting room at city hall the G.L. "Pete" Gilleland Council Chamber.

Although speechless at the gesture, Gilleland later said he was proud and honored.

Gilleland was also honored by the Etowah Lodge No. 222 F&AM on June 21, 2005, when he was awarded his 50-year service pin, exactly five decades after he became a Mason.

A retired poultry farmer and veteran of World War II, Gilleland is survived by his wife of 73 years, Bernice Parks Gilleland, and two children, Sandy English and Tim Gilleland.

Other immediate survivors include his brother, Gene Gilleland, and several grand and great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bearden Funeral Home in Dawsonville. Private interment services will be held later.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Cystic Fibrosis - Reaching Out Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 870747, Stone Mountain, GA 30087.

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