Thel Evert Gillespie, 72, died Jan. 9, 2020, in his sleep in his home in Provo, Utah. He was born April 19, 1947, to Leone Penrod Gillespie and Nellie Rothlisberger in the Snowflake Maternity Hospital and raised in the communities of Vernon, Casa Grande, and Eagar. He had a pleasant childhood with his siblings Sharon, Arnold, Cathy, Joy, and Coy.
Thel was a general contractor by trade and built a lasting legacy which includes not only buildings but eight children and 27 grandchildren who admired him dearly and hope to carry on his faith, work ethic, loyalty and sense of duty and honor.
He attended Round Valley High School where he was an outstanding basketball player, a state MVP for the varsity football team, and selected as the Arizona Boys State Representative. He then served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Western Canadian Mission.
Throughout his life, Thel was defined by a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to his country. He manifested this commitment by joining the United States Army from 1969-1971 when the United States was at war in Vietnam. Although he was fortunate to never be hailed into combat, he honorably fulfilled his obligation in Germany. Thel would often instruct his family regarding the history and principles associated with the nation’s important figures and events. Thel was active in Republican politics as a voter, Arizona State Delegate and Apache County Chairman.
After his Army service, he began his career working in building construction. He built homes primarily in the White Mountain region of Arizona. Being expertly tutored and mentored in the construction field by his building experienced father and Gillespie uncles he was able to quickly obtain an Arizona Contractor’s License. Thel always had an entrepreneur attitude and realized he could bless the lives of others with becoming a businessman. He employed many people in the White Mountain community with his Thelco Development Construction Company, Eagar Gas Station and Nutrioso Country Store. Thel’s work made him an active figure in the community, and he had an impact on existing and future generations with the construction of homes and small commercial buildings where he did everything from laying the foundation to shingling the roof.
In 1974, Thel married Anna Yerda Thompson in the Provo, Utah Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ. Together they raised their large family of eight children in Eagar and Springerville.
In 1996, they felt inspired to move to Provo, Utah, largely to facilitate more educational opportunities for their children. Thel and Anna had a shared value system which enabled them to build a home where siblings got along, grew in confidence, and had a good foundation for their own vocational, spiritual, and mental development. Thel was especially proud to see his children maintain good jobs, graduate with formal higher education, serve honorable church missions, and marry in the temple.
He enjoyed playing and watching sports, traveling to the nation’s historic sites, reading books about significant persons and events, sugar in all of its forms, and spending time with his family.
He is survived by his wife, Anna of 45 years; children: Garrett Thel Gillespie, Seth Evert (Melyssa) Gillespie, Lois Nicole (Kevin) Orton, Lori Nell (Deron) Watanabe, David Leone (Lavenia) Gillespie, Yerda Victoria (Travis) Hoban, Jonathan Charles (Nicole) Gillespie, and Lachelle DaLynn Gillespie; and many siblings, siblings-in-law, cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts and uncles. Thel had 25 born grandchildren at the time of his passing, but AnnaMarie Kau’imikimikiokalani Gillespie was born shortly after Thel’s passing and another new granddaughter due in 2020 will join his posterity. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time of war, and a time of peace; a time to break down, and a time to build up (Ecclesiastes 3).
funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Church of Jesus Christ building, 1122 Grand Avenue Provo, Utah 84604. A public viewing will precede the funeral from 9-10:30 a.m. An additional memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20, at the Church of Jesus Christ building at 135 North Main Street Eagar, AZ 85925 with an interment at the Vernon Cemetery to follow.