G. Howard Gillelan, 81, outdoor writer, worked to preserve Assateague Island

March 02, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

G. Howard Gillelan, outdoor writer, sportsman and conservationist who was instrumental in the creation of Assateague Island National Seashore, died of an infection Feb. 20 at his Annapolis residence. He was 81.

As a journalist-photographer, Mr. Gillelan wrote hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles and 11 books, many illustrated with photographs he took, including his most recently published book, "Gunning for Sea Ducks."

He also co-founded Eastern Bowhunter magazine, which later became Bowhunting, the leading national publication devoted to the subject. From 1959 until 1978, he was the archery department editor for Outdoor Life magazine.

As a member of the original Committee for the Preservation of Assateague Island, he was instrumental in the passage of the bill that created Assateague Island National Seashore.

He was invited to the White House bill signing by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and given one of the pens used to sign the legislation.

The Baltimore native was a 1935 graduate of Boys' Latin School and studied at the Johns Hopkins and Cornell universities.

During World War II, he served briefly with the Army's 29th Division before he was medically discharged because of a childhood injury to his eardrum.

The former Roland Park resident moved to the Eastern Shore's Talbot County in 1972 and later to Caroline County. He was managing editor of the Dorchester News from 1972 to 1973.

He also was the Eastern Shore correspondent for the Baltimore News American. He later edited a weekly outdoor page for the Denton Times Record and was a regular contributor to the

Delmarva Farmer.

Because of failing health, he retired in 1991 and moved to Annapolis.

"He was a big, hard-nosed, soft-hearted, hard-drinking Hemingway-like character -- he looked like Hemingway -- who knew his way in and out of journalism, literature, photography and archery," said Patrick Smithwick, director of publications at Gilman School, who was a reporter for the Dorchester News.

Mr. Gillelan enjoyed fly-fishing for trout in streams in Maryland, Pennsylvania and in the Colorado Rockies.

A successful bowhunter, he was a founding member and official measurer of the Pope and Young Club, which records all bTC specimens of North American big-game animals taken by bow and arrow.

He was a member of the Izaak Walton League of America, National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Free State Fly Fishers and Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Of Scots-American ancestry, he was a founder and past president of the St. Andrew's Society of the Eastern Shore and a member of the Robert Burns Society of Annapolis, St. Andrew's Society of Baltimore and the societies of Clan MacDougall and Clan MacLellan.

His marriage to Anne Stinson ended in divorce.

Services are private.

He is survived by two sons, Joshua T. Gillelan II of Mitchellville and Ian MacDowell Gillelan of York, Pa.; three daughters, Ann Eden Gillelan of Cambridge, Mary Elizabeth Gillelan of Annapolis and Harriet G. Mills of Bethlehem; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/02/98

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