Gil (Meredith) Gager
I'll start my bio two weeks after I graduated, which was my 18th birthday, and my first day as an apprentice electrician. That was the start of a four year apprenticeship of which training was partly on the job and classes at night.
1965 was a big year. I top-out as a journeyman electrician and get married to someone I dated only six months. (That should have been a signal that it wouldn't last). Got drafted in 1966, along with Johnny Ward and went off to Army boot camp. Ended-up at Fort Bragg after boot camp and got a 'Dear John' letter within a few weeks. I went off to Vietnam in 1967-68 in the Construction Engineers building outpost camps with the Combat Engineers. Made it back safely in '68 and resumed my career as an electrician working on many misc. projects along the Gulf Coast of FL, building high rise condos, shopping centers, hospitals, and power plants.
In late 1968 I met my future wife Avis and we married in 1970. 1971 brought us our son, Jason, and late '72 gave us our daughter, Tippi. She was named after Tippy Calhoun (I just liked the nick name). Tippy and Avis became friends since we lived in the same area, and the kids went to the same schools and eventually got into sports.
We built our dream house out on Proctor Rd., across from Fox Fire Golf Course, and took on a little bit of the country life. We spent the early '80's in Little League and Miss Sarasota Softball, toting the kids back and forth to their sports. Somewhere in there we had time to do the Indian Guides, which was a lot of fun, and made good friends.
Construction in the area started to slowdown and I had an offer to go to work with a general contractor as an electrical superintendant in Orlando. I commuted for about a year and after the project was completed they made an offer to move us to N.Y. to build an IBM Research & Development Center in East Fishkill, NY. That was the start of my career of moving from one major project to another for the next 28 years. We spent a dozen years in the NY, CT, and NJ area doing such projects as Bristol-Myers Research & Development Center in Wallingford, CT, back to NY to build the largest Class 1 clean room in the world for IBM, to Long Island to build a NY Judicial Facility. It was after that project that I got involved with building a trash-to-cash Co-generation facility in Rahway, NJ, and then it was back to Long Island to do a co-gen for Stonybrook University.
In 1995 I got an offer to do another co-generation facility in Sacramento, CA and jumped at the chance. I had spent some time in CA after I was discharged from the Army, and looked forward to the move. In 1998 Avis was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a 3-1/2 year battle, she wanted to be close to family, so it was back to FL in 2002. We settled in Winter Haven to be close to family, and close to a project that Clark Const. had transferred me to. Avis passed before the end of the year. The kids were in CA and NC and I convinced them to move back to FL so we could be together. Tippi worked for the CEO of B of A and was transferred to Orlando. Jason just up and left CA to come back to Winter Haven.
Large construction project were not to be found in FL, so it was off to SC for a couple years to build a bio-science processing facility in Kingstree, SC. In the mean time the kids had found their soul mates and in 2006 both of them got married. Tippi and Bo now live in Winston-Salem, NC, and is a stay at home mom. Jason and Toni still live in Winter Haven and manage my restaurant in Lake Alfred, which I acquired last Sept. on a whim. If you're passing through the area sometime, it's called Chat-A-Whyle, right on N. Hwy. 17/92.
Late 2005 saw me heading back to Los Angeles, CA to build the largest project west of the Mississippi at the time, a $650 million replacement hospital for the TV show, General Hospital, in E. LA. The new LAC/USC Hospital won awards for being the most difficult to build, and was written-up as the most advanced county hospital in the nation.
Next it was off the Walnut Creek, CA to build another hospital, John Muir Medical Center. Completed it in 2011, and now I'm living in Redondo Beach, CA. My next project is a replacement Central Utility Plant for Los Angeles Airport. (3-1/2 years) Then I'm retiring!!
I have condos in Winter Haven and Walnut Creek, and right now I don't know where I want to retire. CA is fantastic, but expensive.
I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at the 50th, the last one I attended was the 25th.