2018-06-21 / Obituaries


Gilbert H. Whelden, Jr., 97, passed peacefully at Medilodge of Leelanau on June 12, 2018 surrounded by family & friends.

Gil was born on March 23, 1921 in Detroit, Michigan. Son of Gilbert & Robina (MacLeod) Whelden. Gil’s home in Leland overlooked Lake Leelanau on a piece of land situated between LL and Lake Michigan, originally purchased by Gil’s grandfather MacLeod in 1938. Gil grew up spending summers with his family just north of Leland where cherry and strawberry growing was their summertime daily life.

Gil attended Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills and college at Olivet. Gil joined the Army six months after WWII broke out and served as an operating room tech. He saw service in North Africa, Italy and France. Having always had a love of architecture, in his army duffle bag Gil kept a book on Frank Lloyd Wright, whom Gil was pleased to meet on two occasions.

Gil returned from the army and graduated from Michigan State University with a biology degree. After teaching for a year, Gil decided to join the JL Hudson Co. and for the next 35 years worked as a very talented interior designer.

Gil loved to travel and saw Asia, Europe and South America including Easter Island and the Galapagos. He regretted never getting to see Machu Picchu. Gil was a guest at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and enjoyed traveling to many other FLW buildings throughout the US.

Gil shared his love of gardening, the arts and architecture with his longtime partner, Paul. Together they took in shows and managed gardens around their home. Gil enjoyed the view of his backyard and all the nature, of which he held in very high esteem. Gil enjoyed arts of all kinds from fine art to music and theatre. He was an art collector, interior and floral designer and an avid reader. He was inquisitive by nature and had an amazing memory, making him quite a storyteller. Gil was an artisan too. Many will remember his amazing creations ‘in miniature’ with the historic MacLeod doll house and his spectacular, multilevel nativity scene. Gil was a true renaissance man with a gift for making the world more beautiful.

Gil is survived by his partner Paul Kieren, sister in law Nadeen Kieren, brother in law Thom Greene, niece Robin Bushnell Hogan, nephews Christopher and George Bushnell and cousins Darden Carr and Bonnie Franks.

Gil was preceded in death by his parents and sister Elizabeth Whelden Bushnell.

Condolences may be sent to PO Box 991, Leland, Michigan.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Leelanau Nature Conservancy.

The family is being served by Wolfe- O’Neill Funeral Home, our family serving yours.

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