Richard Lavern Gill, Sr.
Went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Richard was born Jan. 30, 1943 in Jackson, Miss., the son of Rev. Willie and Dora (McDonald) Gill. He had been a resident of Kalamazoo for most of his life.
The second eldest of seven children, he attended Lincoln Junior School and Kalamazoo Central High School. He did odd jobs in his youth to help pay for things he wanted or needed. He was a wrestler while in school and in his free time was an avid roller skater and pool player. He worked at Breson Bakers and Reasey's Bakery. At Reasey's, he was a baker's helper, working alongside his father, who was a skilled baker. He later worked as an assembly line worker at Beach Products Co. He also found work as a nurse attendant at the Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital, where his mother, Dora, and wife, Sylvia, also worked.
Using what he learned in business, he opened Gill's Bakery in 1968 at 201 E. Paterson Street in Kalamazoo. Not long after, he purchased Bouma's Bakery at 920 N. Westnedge Ave. on Kalamazoo's North Side. It was a bakery with a shop that sold baked goods and coffee. His father, a master baker, worked with him there. His wife, Sylvia, helped there as a cake decorator. And his siblings also worked in the operation.
Richard later worked as a marketing sales representative for Durametallic Corp. After 25 years with that company, he retired in the early 1990s but returned to work for shorter stints at Art-Van Furniture, Quality Farm & Fleet, Meijer and Tali's Market.
On Feb. 2, 1961, Richard was united in marriage to his loving wife of 50 years Sylvia M. Fisher. She preceded him in death on May 17, 2011. He was also preceded in death by his son Richard L. Gill Jr. on Dec. 4, 2018, and a sister, Veronica Jo Gill, who died many years ago, shortly after her birth.
He is survived by: his children, Carmina (Al) Jones and Cherryl (Darrell) Carter; 12 grandchildren, Samantha Logan, Richard L. Gill III, Braylon Gill, Charli Holloway, Tereva Carter, A.J. Jones, Kenneth Jones, Isaiah Carter, Nolan Carter, Keith Jones, Maria Crane and Antonio Denham; 2 great-grandchildren Kiana Gill and Dean Crane; 6 sisters and brothers, Mildred Arbor, Charles (Kathy) Gill, Caldin Street, William (Sandi) Gill, Roger Gill and Gwen (Edward) Morgan; and many nieces, nephews, in-laws and cousins.
A homegoing celebration is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 3926 S 9th St, Kalamazoo MI 49009, with Rev. Edward Morgan officiating. A family hour is scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. that day at the funeral home. To view Richard's personalized web page, please visit https://www.langelands.com
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