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William Gilkinson

William John "Bill" Gilkinson

Thursday, September 17th, 1925 - Thursday, January 2nd, 2020
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William “Bill” John Gilkinson was born in New York City on September 17, 1925, to Margaret (Thatcher) and Joseph Gilkinson. He passed away on January 2, 2020.

Bill was preceded in death by his loving wife of 60 years Ellen Rose (Buchanan); his parents; sisters Betty and Ruth (Lindley). Survived by children William (Claire) Gilkinson, Gary Gilkinson, Patricia Gilkinson, and Janet Rogers; four grandchildren, Dane Rogers, Daryl (Matt) Hastings, Mimi (Cuneyt Akcay) Gilkinson, Wills Gilkinson; and one great grandson Wyatt Hastings.

Before graduating high school, Bill joined the US Army Air Force. Upon graduating, he was assigned to the new B-29 bomber program. Bill flew as the Central Fire Control (top) gunner on many missions in the Pacific Theatre of War. All missions were flown over the Japanese mainland. Many citations and commendations were received by Bill for his military service. Bill served in the military twice. In 1950 he was recalled to service for the Korean War. He remained in the Air Force Reserve and flew training missions with the B-36 bomber group in Ft. Worth, TX. When a need for a gunnery instructor was offered in Tucson, he joined the gunnery school as an instructor. After the war, Bill attended NYC Architecture and Design school through a G.I. Bill and went to work as a designer in NYC.

While serving the required one-year recall time, Bill met his future wife, Ellen Rose Buchanan, at an event at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. When he was finally discharged from service, he decided to stay in Tucson to marry the lovely Ellen Rose. There were not many jobs in Tucson for architects at the time so the idea to apply to the TPD was suggested by Ellen. Ellen worked for the City of Tucson as assistant court clerk and had some connections that aided in the employment Bill was hoping to secure. Bill joined the TPD in 1951 and served for 30 years. Bill married Ellen in 1952 after completing the TPD probationary requirement. He remained in love with the beautiful Ellen Rose for their 60 married years. Ellen passed away in 2013.

After Bill completed the recruit training academy, he served in various assignments at the TPD which had its own jail and radio system. He worked as a jailor and radio operator and as a midnight foot patrolman downtown. He rode the three-wheeled motorcycle for parking enforcement. He qualified as a detective and worked all units in the division. He was selected to train in the FBI academy in Washington, DC. Upon graduation, Bill was promoted to sergeant and organized the Intelligence Unit, which was the first police unit to work organized crime and vice activities. As a lieutenant, Bill developed the scope of the new TPD headquarters on south Stone Avenue. He also assisted in the planning for existing sub-stations. He helped modernize the TPD and in 1981the department purchased its first helicopter. Female detectives were part of the TPD since the early 1950s but Bill made changes to include the women in uniform patrol assignments in 1981. He always shared that accomplishment when given the chance. Bill advanced through the TPD with time and tests, and in 1969, he was appointed chief of police, serving for 12 years, retiring in 1981.

Bill joined the Rotary club of Tucson and became club president for the 1974-1975 term. His membership remained through his remaining years. He was a member of many civic groups, and he was so proud of his community involvement.

Bill enjoyed being with family and friends, pleased with the growth of the city of Tucson and the many good people who have made the community a better place to live.

In lieu of flowers, Bill wished donations be made towards helping with assistance to families of first responders who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.

The memorial service is to be held at Avalon Chapel; 8090 N. Northern Ave, Oro Valley, AZ 85704 on March 14, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. His family appreciates your love and support.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Saturday, March 14th, 2020 | 2:00pm
    Saturday, March 14th, 2020 2:00pm
    Adair Funeral Home Avalon Chapel
    8090 N. Northern Ave.
    TUCSON, AZ 85704
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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520-201-1130 Dodge Chapel: 1050 N. Dodge Blvd. | Tucson, AZ 85716 | Phone: 520-201-1130
Avalon Chapel: 8090 N. Northern Ave. | Oro Valley, AZ 85704 | Phone: 520-201-1141