On Friday, January 7, 2022, Emily Gilman Hayden of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, passed comfortably to meet her many friends and loved ones in God’s kingdom and take her place in the alto section of the Heavenly choir, wearing Groucho Marx glasses and a fake mustache. She was surrounded by loving friends and family, and, after a mostly successful seven-year battle with lung cancer, she was ready to meet Jesus at last. Emily was predeceased by her parents, Doris (Ekstrom) and Donald Bertram Gilman, and brother, Hugh Gilman ’57, of Wellington, New Zealand. She is survived by her husband John ’62; son Peter ’88 and daughter-in-law Melissa; son Daniel ’93; grandchildren Kyra, Tyler, Giles and Ian; and siblings-in-law Peg Gilman, Priscilla Santiago and Tony Santiago, and many nieces and nephews. Emily was born on July 18th ,1943 in Elmhurst, Illinois. She spent her early years in Jackson, Mississippi before the family relocated to Warren, Massachusetts. However, she retained the ability to call up her best southern drawl on command. She attended the Northampton School for Girls, where she met John, her husband of 54 years, at a Valentine’s Day dance with the nearby boys school he attended. She was a gifted athlete (including archery and field hockey) and singer. She would go on to graduate from Skidmore College, where she was a member of the Sonneteers, with whom she toured. A life-long lover of books and knowledge, she earned her graduate degree from Springfield College, and held positions at several area bookstores, including Logos, Johnson’s, and the Christian Bookstore, before opening her own bookstore, The Last Word, in West Springfield, which she operated for years in person and later online. Above all, she was a homemaker, wife, mother and grandmother. In her later years, she was nearly always adorned with some item from one of her grandchildren’s colleges, and for whose school football teams she cheered raucously each fall weekend. She was also a caretaker of a several cats, who were her constant companions. In her later years, Emily devoted her time, passion, and creative energy to service in the Orchard Covenant Church and to the Community Survival Center of Indian Orchard. She was grateful to be welcomed into the community of Kenyan and Congolese families that have settled in our area. Through her many travels around the country and abroad, perhaps her most satisfying visit was to the village of Muhudu, in Kenya, where she was able to meet and share in the love of her adopted family. She faced her illness with characteristic frankness and toughness, but also with the reassurance that her journey would bring her home to the Lord. She was very grateful for the excellent care and support she received from doctors Michael Rosen and Philip Glynn; Lisa, Bonnie, and the nursing staff at the Sister Caritas Cancer Center, and the staff at Mercy Hospital. She could not have continued without the enduring support of her loving husband John, who was constantly by her side. She passed on at home, cared for by friends and family, and was welcomed in Heaven at last with love. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at a later date. Wilbraham Funeral Home, 2551 Boston Rd., Wilbraham, MA 01095 is in charge of the arrangements. The family requests those who wish to to consider a donation to Community Survival Center of Indian Orchard, 240 Main St., Indian Orchard MA 01151, https://communitysurvivalcenter.org. or Orchard Covenant Church, 95 Berkshire St. Indian Orchard, MA 01151, https://www.orchardcovenant.org.
Remembering members of the Williston Northampton community