Gregory William Gildark, a retired police officer and heavy equipment operator, died of an aortic rupture April 23 at his Mount Jackson, Va., home. The former Severn resident was 64.
Born in Baltimore and raised on West Cross Street in Pigtown, he attended St. Jerome School and was a 1966 Southern High School graduate. He then became a Navy Seabee and served two duty tours in Vietnam. He was awarded the Marine Combat Insignia for "bravery in battle," according to his discharge papers.
After his time in the military, he joined the Baltimore City Police Department and worked for several years before moving to California and joining the San Diego Police Department, where he helped establish a women's shelter.
In a 1977 letter, Carol R. Angell, the project coordinator of the San Diego Battered Women's Project, wrote to his superior and noted Mr. Gildark's work which "has enhanced our understanding of the police and their difficulty in dealing with battered women. ... He has reflected very positively on the San Diego Police Department."
In a 1978 Commanding Officer's Citation, Mr. Gildark was praised for "devotion to duty, unselfish donation of his free time, understanding of the community and support of community-oriented policing." The citation noted his work for the shelter and his role in a gang activity detail.
While working in San Diego, he also earned a degree in criminal justice at night from San Diego State University.
"He never took a sick day," said his son, Daniel Gildark of Seattle, Wash. "He espoused that no matter how small the job was, it was important to do it right. He was the hardest worker I've ever known."
In 1982 he returned to Maryland and moved to Severn. He joined Occidental Petroleum Co. at its Curtis Bay coal-loading facility.
"He was very much a problem-solver," said his daughter, Amanda Gildark of Pasadena.
After about a decade he joinedBaltimore Gas and Electric Co.and worked in heavy equipment operation at its Charles P. Crane and Brandon Shores plants.
"He ran the equipment that unloaded coal barges and operated the conveyor belts," said a former co-worker, Melvin Bull of White Marsh. "He had learned heavy equipment operation in the Seabees and even though the technology had changed, he picked right up on it again. He was a smart guy. He also loved his fishing and was a funny guy, who told great stories. He was strong as an ox."
Mr. Gildark retired in 1998. He then took certification classes as a personal trainer and worked at the Columbia YMCA. He also focused on his own training. He ran daily and became a Senior Olympian and competed in events. He had boxed in the Navy, and he resumed that activity. He fished at Liberty Reservoir.
He moved to Mount Jackson in 2008. There he continued to exercise and ran in the mountains five miles daily.
He read books of quotations. His daughter, Amanda, said two of his favorites, which he repeated, were, "Tenacity, determination, ownership, courage — I've known not from man, but from a bee, whose berry I bit." He would also say, "I accept my success as I accept my failures — with great bewilderment!!!"
Mr. Gildark belonged to the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Anne Arundel County.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. May 1 at the Kirkley-Ruddick Funeral Home, 421 Crain Highway S.E. in Glen Burnie.
In addition to his son and daughter, survivors include his wife, Yoshiko Adachi, who was his life partner for 12 years; another son, Gregory Gildark of Abingdon; another daughter, Jennifer White of Linthicum; two brothers, Joseph Gildark of Edgewater and Douglas Damian Gildark of Halethorpe; and five grandchildren. He was formerly married to Sharon Pellom.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun