Date of Death: February 21, 2022
A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. at Camp Eberhart Chapel on Corey Lake.
James Leonard Gillard III (“Jim”) died peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving family on February 21, 2022. Jim was born November 28, 1939 in Muskegon, Michigan, the Son of Dr. James L Gillard Jr. and Margaret “Peg” (Moore) Gillard. Jim was delivered into this world by his father, “Doc Gillard”, an OB-GYN practicing in the Muskegon area.
Jim was a 1957 Graduate of Muskegon High School and a 1968 graduate of Western Michigan University College of Business. He loved hunting, fishing, and the outdoors and made his career as a District Business Manager with the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources in Grand Rapids and Plainwell. He began his career with the DNR working in the fire tower during college. In 1989, Jim received the Michigan Natural Resources Commission Commendation for Outstanding Employee for his work with DNR hunting and fishing licensing training.
Jim married Cynthia Schaefer in 1981 during her third year of law school at Notre Dame. They chose Three Rivers as their home to split the commute between Notre Dame and Jim’s DNR office in Plainwell. Later, Jim and family moved to Corey Lake in 1992 and Jim retired from the DNR in December, 1994 after 30 plus years on the job. In addition to supporting his children’s scholastic and sporting aspirations, he took up sports and wildlife photography over the course of his retirement. He eventually published 2 books of his photography, which included a book of area sports photos and a book of area wildlife. Jim became locally known for his photography of Three Rivers sporting events and, for years, would always make sure that each Three Rivers High School athlete received a complimentary photograph of them participating in their sport. He won several photo awards from his Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts photography class submissions and never turned down a chance to shoot a sporting event with his friend and mentor, Chuck Comer.
Jim’s greatest love was the outdoors. Jim and Cindy took several fishing trips north to Grand Marais and to the Rocky Mountains. He taught Cindy how to snow ski and they spent many days with their children and friends up north at the family cabin skiing and snowmobiling. Jim and his son took back-to-back P.A.L.M. bicycle trips together across Michigan. He was an active member of the Audubon Club in St. Joseph County and a life-long member of the Elks. He served as member and president of the board of directors for Camp Wakeshma at Corey Lake and he was also active for many years in the local chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
Jim is survived by his wife of 40 years, Cynthia (Schaefer) Gillard, his son James L (Lyca) Gillard IV, his daughter, Chelsi (Kenton) Bowers, and his 3 wonderful granddaughters, Adella Isabel Gillard, Sylvia Bowers and Savine Bowers, his sister Margaret Ann (Marv) Howard, his brother Tom (Valerie) Gillard, and his brothers, Doug Gillard and Paul Gillard, his sister-in-law, Marcia Gillard, his brothers-in-law, James (Nancy) Williamson and Nicholas P. Schaefer as well as many beloved nieces and nephews, Mike (Shana) Wasilewski, Tom (Brenda) Wasilewski, Kirk and Kate Gillard, Shaunte Staley, Marla, Rick and Laura Gillard and their families, Autumn and Grant Gillard, Dr. Paul Gillard, Kailye Gillard, Danae Gillard Pulaski, Olivia Schaefer, Nicholas Scott Schaefer, and Wendy, Jeremy, Jake, Sam and Hannah Williamson. He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. James Gillard and Peg Gillard and his brother, Dr. Robert “Bob” Gillard, his in-laws, George Schaefer, Barbara Jean Schaefer and brother-in-law George “Scott” Schaefer.
Donations in his name can be given to the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, the Parkinson’s Foundation or Promedica Hospice. Envelopes are available at and may be sent to Hohner Funeral Home in care of his arrangements.
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We recently received notification of Mr. Gillard’s passing, and on behalf of the Ford Lake Estates Association we send our deepest condolences. The Gillard’s are long time members of the Association so we will keep him and his family in our prayers.
We met Jim & Cindy in 1981 when they moved in next door to my parents on N Main St. Great People! Jim was always so positive, practical but positive. He was always upbeat about life, the community of Three Rivers, its people and culture, loved sports, photography, nature and the outdoors, always spoke positively about his family. Seemed like over the years we would run into Jim at one of the restaurants near Corey Lake. He always had a story (or 6) and would talk to us until our pizza cooled off but we loved it. To the Gilliard family….thank you for sharing him, every community needs at least one ambassador and we had Jim. He will be missed.
It is so sad to hear of the loss. As children, we lived live close to the Gillard family. Peg and my mother, Jane VanderLaan, were dear friends. May Jim rest in peace. My condolences to the family.
Dear family of Jim: Jim was the District Business Executive at Plainwell when I hired in as his counterpart at the old Pontiac District Office. I considered him a mentor, one of several in our Region III Admin Services workgroup. Professional, yet relaxed and down-to-earth, he possessed natural leadership. I left the DNR in 1989 but one of those I well and fondly remember is Jim. I see from his obituary he did not let grass grow under his feet! My sincere condolences 💐
Dear Cindy and Family:
Since you will not recognize my name, please allow an introduction. My name is Dan Bonner, Sr. and I was saddened to see Jim’s obituary in the Muskegon (where I live) mlive
I met Jim in the summer of 1975 at Yankee Springs Recreation Area where I directed the DNR’s Youth Conservation Corps program.
I was a post-graduate Catholic seminarian way back then. We ran two 6 week sessions with about 50 teens in each session plus staff.
The teens worked on DNR projects throughout southwest Michigan.
Needless to say, the financial management of that undertaking often exceeded my simple accounting skills.
That was when my Guardian Angel, Jim Gillard, rode into the Camp Noonday Outdoor Center to rescue me from fiscal management!
Jim would come to Yankee Springs from his Grand Rapids office every one of those 12 weeks to assist me in managing a sizable budget. After our meetings, I would take Jim to the camp’s rustic mess hall. There I would cook a brunch of French Toast, juice, and coffee. I enjoyed our many conversations and certainly appreciated his skillful assistance with our multi-faceted finances.
When I read that my friend from decades ago had passed away, I recalled many wonderful memories through my sadness.
Just wanted those who loved Jim Gillard to know that I have never forgotten the good times we shared all those years ago in the summer of 1975.
Wishing you all peace. And Rest In Peace, Jim.
Thank you for Sharing Dan!
You are most welcome, Chelsi. Your father’s business skills and his friendship were great gifts in my journey.
I am reminded of a line in Hamlet as I mourn your father’s passing:
“Good Night, Sweet Prince. And may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
Jim was a good man. We always enjoyed talking to him. He was a wonderful part of our community, and made it a better place for us all.
Sincere condolences from our family to yours.
Cindy and family,
Jim was an honest and friendly soul. I was very fond of him and always enjoyed talking with him. I am sure he will be missed by those of us who knew and loved him. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Cindy, Jimmy, Lyca, sweet Della and Chelsea
Shana called us with the news and just know Jim is with God and totally at peace. Let faith in that knowledge bring you comfort and a peaceful heart.
I’ll always remember Jim’s gentle nature, sense of humor and his awesome photos, going through them with him. I have two of those photos hanging in my house, one of them fought over with Ann at the Chistmas Party White Elephant🤣
Our thoughts and prayers are with you always.
Hugs…Earl and Tracey Heath
Sincerest sympathy to you all, from Hope, Christa and myself. I will always remember being so anxious to see Jim’s pictures of the cheerleaders (my daughters!) at the football games. Those were good days.
Wishing healing and peace to all of you.
Dear Cindy, Jimmy, and family. Jim was such a wonderful person. The kindness and understanding shown by him for others was so incredible, He and Joe, I am sure, are sharing stories about everything from baseball cards to hunting and fishing. Oh yes, don’t forget building and repairing of houses. Jim did so much for the school community. I will never forget how kind and non- judgmental he always was to Casey. Our families and friendships go back many years and I will cherish those memories forever. RIP my friend.
We got to know Jim and his family being neighbors and became friends over the years, he will be greatly missed by everybody that knew him and we are very proud to have known Jim , Rest in peace and prayers to the family, Remember all the good times.
Man, heartbreaking news. He was a wonderful man and we had a lot of fun growing up. My condolences to you all. I/We will miss him.
I will miss Uncle Jim so much! He was an amazing man and Uncle. I love him and his family so much! He taught me many things but the love of nature is the one that most stands out. We used to spend time at his cabin and then his beautiful home. I know my dad was there to welcome him home along with my Grandma and Grandpa Gillard. I am very sad but know he is in a better place.
The day he died, my Alexa that shows pictures kept showing me a picture of him and his sister. Another picture would come up but the next picture was that same picture. It happened many times until I said it out loud then it stopped. I believe he was saying good bye to me. ❤️🙏🏻
Praying for Aunt Cindy and her family for peace. I love you all so much!!
I was blessed to have met you and spend as much time with you as I did. You will be greatly missed. Until we meet again…
Uncle Jim/Papa Jim we will miss you everyday. You were a wonderful man and I have so so many amazing memories with you and the family. I am glad you are at peace. I will miss our talks so much! You were a second family for Eric and I always. Like you always told me I was a family member by choice and then by marriage. Love you forever and always.
He was such an amazing guy. So glad I got the privilege to know how. My thoughts are with your family during this time.
A great man. He will forever be missed by everyone. I am so happy I got to know him as well as I did over the many years I spent hanging out with the family. The great conversations we had looking at photos will always be remembered. Rest in peace now. Prayers to all the family.
Jim was an amazing & selfless man who gave me several memories I will continue to hold close to my heart . Although my soul is sad he is no longer here to create more, it is rejoiced that he is graduated something better. I will never forget the light in his eyes when showing me his photos of nature. I will never forget spending those Christmas Days with you. Thank you Jim for taking photos for the community and allowing your memory to live on with each freeze frame of life you captured with your camera . You will always be special in my heart and I hope the Gillard family takes this time to themselves to remember their loved one fondly.