Delbert L. Gilliam


April 7,1935 - June 4, 2013

Delbert was born in Wardner, Idaho on April 6 to Hazel (Randall) and Russell Gilliam. He often talked about rough times growing up especially losing his father in a farming accident when he was 12. He lived at Bayview Idaho while Farragut military base was being built. He started school in Kellogg where he attended first and second grades.  

At 8 years old his family moved to Four Lakes where he attended Four Lakes school when it was a two-room schoolhouse. In high school, he met the love of his life, Maryjane Nelson. They married on Dec. 4, 1954 and eventually had four children.

He enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1953 and was stationed in Vancouver, Wash. He then settled in the Four Lakes area where he bought a farm and began his life long career at Eastern State Hospital.

Initially he attended to farming chores with the patients for the self-sustaining institution. He later became a general repairman then a plumber. During this time he worked three jobs – running a dairy on his farm, working at a box company and his job at the hospital. He talked about nights where his wife would shine vehicle lights on the hay crop so he could move the irrigation pipe.

He then took on the multi-tasking position of plumbing/steam fitter foreman and water distribution manager of Eastern State Hospital. He was known as a very diplomatic negotiator between management and labor forces which led to him becoming union president for several years.  He helped many people out with their different issues-always grounded with a hard work ethic and great common sense.

He retired in 1986 and became a full time rancher/farmer running 50-plus head of cattle (whom he all had named) and raised alfalfa hay. He loved to elk hunt in the mountains with his horses, go ocean fishing and dig for clams and loved to drive his new tractor on the farm. He repaired and maintained all of his own equipment, sometimes designing his own part and then welding it. In a pinch, he could keep equipment going with duct tape and bailing wire.

He was president of the Meadow Lake Preservation Association and was instrumental in the protection and preservation of the lake and surrounding areas. This brought the community together on two occasions working towards keeping the lake (and the area) as it is. 

He raised his family showing them the value of honest hard work and that nothing is insurmountable. His iron will and no quit attitude pushed him through many health dilemmas, he would prove this time and time again.

He is survived by his wife Maryjane, children Sherrie Ubhoff, Jeanie (Pat) McNair, Larry (Tisha) Gilliam, Patty (Ray McBride) Palomino; sisters Shirley (Ted) Radon, Beverly (Lee) Wilcox; grandchildren Heidi (Matt) Schmeets, Shannon McNair, Tiffany and Joe Palomino, Laurli, Amanda, Clayton Gilliam; Ryan, Katie, Mattie and Sally McNair.

During his last days, he talked about "... it's been a good ride."  We will miss him and we loved him very much...."soon we will ride again."

A memorial service was held on June 10 at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake. Cheney Funeral Chapel, Cheney, was in charge of arrangements. Online guestbook at


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