Obituary: Robert 'Stretch' Gillam, 82

Enfield, NH – Robert “Stretch” Joseph Gillam, 82, passed away peacefully at his Mascoma Lake residence on July 31

He was born in Rutland, Vermont on August 26, 1934 the third of five children of Robert and Mary (Cawley) Gillam.  Robert grew up in Rutland where he attended St. Peters Parochial school and graduated from Mt. St. Joseph Academy in 1954 where he served as class president.

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Robert excelled in sports as a three letter man with basketball his favorite.  In his senior year, with Robert as captain, they won their first state championship and went on to the New England Tournament at Boston Garden. He then did a prep year at Kimball Union Academy before serving in the US Army at Fort Benning, Georgia. While there he attended the University of Georgia.

 Robert married his childhood sweetheart, Patricia Foster in Rutland in 1957. After his honorable discharge from the Army they made their home in the Upper Valley where they have lived since.  Coach began working at KUA and was employed for 17 years as PR/Media Liaison, Dorm Master, and coached varsity basketball, baseball and football.  He also served as dining coordinator for The Gordon Research Conferences at the Academy.

 After his time at KUA, Coach enjoyed operating restaurants in the Upper Valley with his family.

 During his over 50 years of coaching basketball in the Upper Valley, including 18 years at Hartford, he had a combined record of over 600 wins as head coach. He also served as Athletic Director for the New Hampshire Shrine Team for 33 years, which was then played at Dartmouth College. More recently, in his retirement, he served as assistant coach at Hanover High school. Coach received many awards over the years including Vermont Coach of the year, Vermont Hall of Fame and in later years, was nominated and inducted into The New England Basketball Hall of Fame.

 As much as he enjoyed coaching the youth of the Upper Valley, Robert loved spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren.

 He is predeceased by his parents; sisters, Mary Therese Gillam and Letetia Trombley; brothers, William and Richard; sister-in-law Irene Gillam and bother-in-law George Foster.

 Robert is survived by his wife of 59 years, Patricia; son, Joseph, his partner Amy and daughter, Josie; daughter, Mary Therese Ruffing and son Ryan; son Stephen, his wife, Kate and daughters, Breanna and Mae; daughter in law, Shari Gillam; sisters-in-law Carolyn Gillam and Priscilla Foster as well as many nieces and nephews.

 A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday August 26th at 1pm, at the LaSalette Shrine, Route 4A Enfield, NH  with  a reception to follow.

 Condolences may be expressed to Coach’s family in an online guest book

 In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to VBCA for the Robert Gillam Scholarship c/o David Fredrickson, 317 Silver St, Bennington, VT 05021.  Or Kimball Union Academy, Basketball facility enhancement, C/O Head of School, Michael Schaffer, Meridan, NH 03770

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