Retirement a ‘re-firing into a different passion’
Congressman Bill Posey commended Pam Gillespie on the successful organization of her final event, the Aug. 2 federal contractors conference, surrounded by chief of staff Marcus Brubaker, Patrick Gavin, Patricia Febro, intern Jonathan Guarine and David Jackson.
photo by Linda Wiggins
If there was such a thing as a local celebrity, Pam Gillespie would be it. The Suntree-area resident worked out of the Viera Government Center for 21 years, assisting a succession of two popular U.S. congressmen in creating as broad a reach as possible that might result in economic growth and job creation, crime suppression, improved schools, protection from terrorism and anything and everything in between.
Her attendance at a group's meeting might mean the ear of the congressman, might mean the move of a particular mission to the spotlight, might mean the connection to another important connection, might mean — in a word — money. Comments from supporters at her Aug. 3 retirement party after 31 years of local community service and years of volunteering before that — to “spend more time with her family while she's young enough to enjoy it” — revealed that her appeal transcended what she could do for others through money, influence and power.
“She is so loved, not only by every one of you, but by everyone who comes in touch with her. She is absolutely contagious,” said Rob Medina, fellow community relations director for District 8 U.S. Congressman Posey, as he opened the ceremony with prayer at Gillespie's request.
“She's not retiring, she is re-firing into a different passion. Her heart is bent toward God and serving others, and you can't just turn that off.”
The huge numbers in attendance included both Posey and former congressman Dr. Dave Weldon, still her family doctor.
“For every problem that you solve,” Congressman Posey said, “one out of 100 people will say thank you. One out of 200 will take the time to drop you a note of appreciation. The stack that Pam started is five huge, thick volumes now. It's incredible the number of lives that she's touched.”
All her leading men turned out and spoke, most importantly her husband Dave, known for 14 years as “no, the other Dave” when she worked for Weldon.
“I hired quite a few people over the years and standing next to me was one of the best hires I've ever made,” Weldon said. “I was new to the Congress and I had to open an office and hire all the staff. I noticed after a few months she was telling everyone else what to do, even a fellow with a law degree. I would give her a task and three or four days to accomplish it and invariably she would come back to me in three hours with it done.”
The Gillespies moved to Brevard in 1978 when the first two of their four children were small. They agreed one parent would always stay home with the children and Pam did so — volunteering along the way at the children's schools and in the community — until Dave decided to work from home and open a group home for mentally and physically challenged adults. Pam had been working part time as a pastor for the Special Gathering, a ministry for mentally challenged adults, under founder Rev. Richard Stimson and alongside her best friend, author Linda Howard.
Gillespie plans to write two books with Howard's assistance — one on husband Dave's dying and brief trips to heaven and one on her grandson Joey's recovery-in-progress from being run over by a car and his meeting Jesus — and tour near and far in the couple's new 35-foot recreational vehicle giving testimony of God's hand of miracle in their lives. For now, it's reflection on gratitude.
“I was shocked to find people were hurting because I wanted to retire,” Gillespie said. “I didn't know I was that well liked. It's hard to feel it, to allow myself to feel that. That I'm that valued, by the congressman, his staff, and the community, that if I were to go away, they would hurt. I guess I have made a difference.”