Special Notice: 0516
Dear Golden Eagles,
It is my sad duty to inform you that Mrs. Nancy Gillcrist, wife of RADM Paul T. Gillcrist, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on March 22, 2016 in Del Mar, California. I just received this sad information from West Flight Leader. The Golden Eagles are invited to attend a Celebration of Life Funeral Mass at Our Mother of Confidence Catholic Church in University City, CA, on Friday April 15th at 10:30 AM preceded by a Rosary at 10:00 AM. There will be a luncheon reception to follow on the private patio of the church from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. Nancy will be interred with military honors at Miramar National cemetery at 2:30PM. In lieu of flowers, please consider sending a donation to Noah Homes, an organization that she strongly supported. Noah Homes is an exceptional residential community for Adults with Developmental Disabilities www.noahhomes.org. Nancy will be dearly missed by family and friends while her legacy will live on with gusto in generations to follow!
In Sadness, Don Boecker-Pilot
Nancy Gillcrist Obituary and Life Story
Nancy May Gillcrist passed away on March 22nd, 2016 in the arms of her loved ones. She was born on July 7th, 1928 to James and Teresa Murtagh of San Francisco who immigrated in the 1920’s from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan, Ireland.
She attended Presentation Elementary School and Presentation High School Academy in San Francisco. She had a younger brother, Thomas Murtagh, who attended St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Nancy took the train from Daly City an hour each way to attend the University of California at Berkeley and graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry. From there, Nancy worked for Shell Oil Company as a Research Chemist and then pursued an opportunity to serve in the U.S. Navy like her brother. She chose the Medical Service Corps. She trained for a year in Aviation Physiology in Pensacola, Florida, and graduated from the Aviation School of Medicine. Nancy became the first female Aviation Physiologist in the Navy and as an Ensign ran the Aviation Physiology Training Unit at Naval Air Station (NAS) Alameda. She provided training for all Pacific Fleet pilots in water survival, low pressure chamber, night vision, ejection seat escape, and survival equipment. During this tour of duty, she used her military leave to travel extensively to Asia, Europe, and the British Isles.
Later and while still at NAS Alameda, Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Nancy Murtagh met LTJG Paul Gillcrist, a newly winged Naval Aviator, who came through her training program. Nancy and Paul married on New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1955, in Treasure Island, CA. Nancy submitted her resignation from the Navy in January 1956 after five years of active service. Nancy and Paul then moved to El Centro, CA. where Paul served as an Instructor Pilot in the Fleet Air Gunnery Unit stationed at Naval Auxiliary Air Station El Centro. They gave birth to their first son, Jim, and daughter, Mary, during this tour of duty. Next, the family moved to Solomon’s Island in Patuxent River, MD. where Paul attended U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River. They gave birth to son, Tom, during this tour of duty. From there, Nancy and family moved to Jacksonville, Florida where they gave birth to youngest son, Peter, while Paul flew the F-8 Crusader and subsequently many other tactical aircraft. Over Paul’s thirty-three year naval career, they lived in many duty stations including California, Maryland, Florida, Virginia, and Washington D.C.
While raising their children during Paul’s many deployments, Nancy remained an active and avid supporter of Navy Spouses and Families. In 1976, she completed her Master of Arts Degree in Human Resource Management from Pepperdine University.
Nancy and Paul retired to La Jolla, CA. where they remained very involved in the lives of their four children who also live in Southern California with their families. Nancy relished her role as a devoted grandmother to nineteen grandchildren whom she was exceedingly proud of to include three Eagle Scouts, four Boy Scouts currently working toward their Eagle Award, and nine Girl Scouts (one of whom is currently working toward her Gold Award).
Her three life mottos included “you don’t get what you don’t ask for” (self-advocacy), “live with honor” (honesty, integrity, and self-respect) and “always go the extra mile to help another” (service). She lived her life to the fullest and these mottos served as her moral compass. Not surprisingly, she has passed along these core values to all her family. She embraced a love of Christ, a devotion to her Catholic faith, and always remained optimistic and joyful.
Her passions included family, faith, education, reading, art, antiques, quilting, real estate, and water aerobics. In her spare time, she became an accomplished financial investor. Her three sons competed for “favorite son status” while Mary remained her “favorite daughter” who always managed to brightened up Mom’s world as only a daughter can do.
Nancy is survived by her dear husband and best friend of 60 years, Rear Admiral Paul Gillcrist, as well as her pride and joy, her wonderful family: Jim & Kathy Gillcrist of La Jolla, Mary Gillcrist Bones of University City, Tom & Terese Gillcrist of Fallbrook, Peter & Amie Gillcrist of San Diego, and their nineteen grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life Funeral Mass will be held at Our Mother of Confidence Catholic Church in University City on Friday April 15th at 10:30 A.M., preceded by a Rosary at 10:00 A.M. There will be a luncheon reception to follow on the private patio of the church from 11:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. Nancy will be interred with military honors at Miramar National Cemetery at 2:30 P.M. In lieu of flowers, please consider sending a donation to Noah Homes, an organization that she supported strongly. Noah Homes is an exceptional residential community for Adults with Developmental Disabilities (www.noahhomes.org).
Nancy will be dearly missed by family and friends while her legacy will live on with gusto in generations to follow!