Thomas Edgar Gilfillan, 65, died Sunday, November 17, 2019 at Butler Memorial Hospital surrounded by his loved ones. When faced with a fast-moving illness, Tom took comfort in his Christian faith.
Tom was a rock and roller who loved concerts. He discovered the Beatles at age 15 and never looked back. Two of his favorite artists were the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix: he often said that the Beatles changed his life and Jimi Hendrix radicalized it. When Hendrix died in 1970, Tom declared a day of mourning and took the day off from high school.
Born April 6, 1954, Tom was the first of James and Norma Gilfillan’s four children. Tom was an active and exuberant child who frequently found himself in sticky situations. He loved to tell the tale of the day he fell on a railroad spike and had to be patched up by the only person his parents could find on an emergency basis – the local veterinarian.
One of the things Tom’s loved ones will miss most about him are his stories, which were often interrupted by his own laughter. His creativity was not confined to storytelling, though: Tom was a prolific artist who loved cartooning, painting, and drawing. Many people’s Christmas and birthday gifts were accompanied by a card of Tom’s own design. His artwork reflected his life: it was bold, colorful and ever evolving.
Though Tom had the heart of a Rolling Stone, he didn’t get his first tattoo until 64 years of age. The tattoo—Romans 8:38-39—spoke to his recently strengthened faith in God. It was also a conversation starter, up to his final days in the hospital. It became an unexpected opportunity to witness, which pleased Tom.
Tom regularly attended Community Alliance Church in Butler, where he enjoyed services with his sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Afterward, the group could often be found in the church café, chatting over cinnamon rolls and coffee.
In his adult years, Tom became a good friend of Bill W., who introduced him to some of his greatest friends. Tom credited them with saving his life.
Tom worked for many years as a carpenter and returned to school as an adult to earn his bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University in 2000.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, as well as his brother David and sister Diane. Tom leaves behind a sister Nancy (John) Kaltenbaugh, of Connoquenessing Township and two nephews, Tyler (Olivia) Martin-Call, Sandy Lake and Stephen Call, Butler.
Friends received from 6-7 PM on Friday, November 22, 2019, at the Spencer D. Geibel Funeral Home & Cremation Services 140 New Castle Rd, with a funeral service to follow at 7 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Grapevine Center, 140 Elm Street, Butler, PA.
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