Gillis retires from Town of Hammond board after 38 years
After spending 38 straight years on the Hammond Town Board, Greg Gillis said goodbye to his position.
“It was the right time to step down because I want to retire some day, real quick and I don’t want to be tied down to a monthly meeting,” Gillis said. “I’ll go fishing and hunting and take longer trips, a lot more of them. Maybe to Alaska and the mountains there. I just put in for my first mountain deer hunt.”
Gillis missed only one board meeting in his 38 years of service to the Town of Hammond, which has allowed him to be part of many projects that have made the town better. Gillis was instrumental in planning and building the new town hall 15 years ago and the town has seen its 38 miles of roads 38 years ago expand to 59 under the watchful eye of Gillis. All of those roads have also been blacktopped, leaving no dirt roads to maintain.
“When you have someone who has been on the board as long as I have been, you have a lot of history about everything that has gone on in that time and before it,” Gillis said. “Continuity is good because it gives you someone who knows what happened before and why it happened and why we did it the way we did it.”
Gillis got his start on the board after volunteering to be part of the County Board Committee for Farmland Preservation in the 1970s. He started going to his local town board meetings in order to get their take on the things the county was talking about and ended up wanting to take a bigger role in his local government.
“Back in the mid to late 70s, farmland preservation was a huge thing and I was on an Ad Hoc committee for the county dealing with getting the roads and planning together for farmland preservation,” Gillis said. “A couple of those people were going to leave the board, so I put my name in the hat. I got on the board to protect farmers’ rights and do as much as I could for farmland preservation.
“Starting off, we were all farmers on the board, but now I’m the last one, even though I don’t farm anymore. I’m the last one who was a true farmer on the board.”
Gillis has farmed his whole life between Hammond and Roberts, but grew up just south of Hammond Township in Warren. When he got married in 1973 he moved north of Warren Township into Hammond Township.
During his time on the board, Gillis has seen three town chairmen, five treasurers and four clerks.
“All the people on the board since I’ve been there have all been good people,” Gillis said. “That’s why I feel comfortable retiring now because we have such good board.”
A retirement celebration for Gillis was held following the April 18 Hammond Town Board annual meeting.
“I’ll miss the camaraderie when I leave the board. They will still be my friends, but there is always the chance to talk outside of meetings or if I come to one now and then,” Gillis said.