Cover photo for Dennis Gene Gilliland's Obituary
1941 Dennis 2023

Dennis Gene Gilliland

October 26, 1941 — May 14, 2023


Dennis Gene Gilliland, of Grand Junction, Colorado, age 81, passed away following a brief illness, Sunday, May 14th, 2023, surrounded by family.  At the time of his death, he was living with his daughter Denise in Grand Junction.  He was born October 26, 1941, in Bird City, Kansas.  He was the son of the late Lowell and Beulah Gilliland and one of four brothers.   In 1945, Dennis and his family moved to the farm in Cherry Valley, Colorado where he gained much experience farming, ranching and milking cows.

Dennis graduated from Douglas County High School in Castle Rock, Colorado.  He was very athletic and was able to win the first state championship in wrestling for Douglas County in 1959, and he won the Grand Prize at the Science Fair that same year.  He also played the Electric Steel Hawaiian Guitar at the music festival in High School.  He was very talented in anything involving mechanics and loved building things out of steel and wood. 

While working various jobs after graduating from high school, Dennis met his future wife, Maribeth Travis, in 1962 in Castle Rock, Colorado and they were married in 1963.  Dennis also aspired to be a pilot and he obtained his private pilot’s license in 1963.  Their son Travis was born, and they moved to Bird City, Kansas to help his Aunt Sue and Uncle Ralph work on the farm. After helping for about 4 years on the farm, they moved back to Colorado and their daughter Denise was born in 1970.

Dennis had varied interests in many different fields.  He gained experience working for IBM, Frontier Airlines, Martin Marietta, Union Pacific Railroad, decorative concrete, the mines in Climax, Colorado and in sales.  He ultimately found his passion in construction excavation and started his own excavating business in Castle Rock, Colorado in the late 70’s as well as a trenching business in the 90’s.   He was also a restaurant owner in Bird City, Kansas and in Gering, Nebraska in later years.  While living in Nebraska, he was blessed with 3 grandchildren that he cherished spending time with.  Other hobbies in retirement included playing slot machines in Blackhawk/Central City and designing furniture and other items with woodworking.  His favorite place for camping, hiking, and 4-wheeling was in the San Juan Mountains and fishing in Yampa.  He loved kids and animals and collecting rocks.  After retiring, he continued to keep busy by doing handyman work, helping his cousins in Bird City with harvesting and installation of sprinkler systems.

Dennis was preceded in death by his parents Lowell and Beulah, his oldest brother Wayne and youngest brother Jim.  He is survived by his former wife and friend Maribeth Travis; son Travis E. Gilliland and daughter J. Denise (Doug) Reifschneider; grandsons Elijah T. Sharrar, Colton E. Gilliland and Ian D. Sharrar; many other relatives and a host of friends.  He will be deeply missed.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Memorial contributions in Dennis’s name can be made to Make-A-Wish Foundation or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dennis Gene Gilliland, please visit our flower store.


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