Meet Jim Gillan, groundskeeper

Russell Lindquist

Jim Gillan

Russell Lindquist

GROSSMONT COLLEGE–These days, the world can be quite fast-paced. Sometimes, it seems that there is just too much to do in a day. The solution? Well, here is an option: now and then, stop to smell the roses…and then meet the groundskeepers who keep those roses looking nice.

Born in Fountain Valley near Huntington Beach, groundskeeper Jim Gillan recalls his days of surfing in the mid ’70s: “I got a couple injuries…we used to go to the ledges and off the falls, but after a couple of years grew out of that.”

Gillan’s mother’s family immigrated from Germany to Russia, then to Kansas and Mexico, in the early 1900s; his father’s side is Irish. His parents divorced when he was 14-years-old.  Gillan moved from Fountain Valley to San Diego in 1977.

“I wandered into San Diego without expectations…just in time to witness the crash of PSA flight 182 over North Park. I didn’t see it; I saw the smoke,”  Gillan recalled of the midair collision that killed 144 persons.

“Then there was the Brenda Spencer shootings,” in which a San Diego teenager who lived near Cleveland Elementary School killed two children and wounded nine others, explaining to the police: “I don’t like Mondays.” 

As part of the class of ’81 at Skyline high school in San Diego, Gillan played baseball, football and basketball. “I also spent plenty time partying and finding myself.” In his youth, he also took guitar lessons: “I never did learned very much but I can jam four chords!”

Fishing is among Gillan’s favorite hobbies, especially at Shelter Island, on half-day boats and pier-fishing. Much more than sports, music and fishing has occupied Gillan’s life: “I’ve always worked. I worked at a corn-chip factory, at the Otay water district…” (The latter, Gillan recalls fondly as probably favorite job.)

John Gillan, Jim’s father, is an 82-year-old retiree from aerospace; and Jim’s mother lives in Arizona, near Phoenix. He has three sisters: Jeanine, a retired deputy sheriff; Anne, a middle and high school teacher; and Kris, who works for the corporation which manufactures the popular cosmetic Botox.

Keeping grounds at Torrey Pines High and La Jolla High was Gillan’s daily work, until 2002 when, he says, they had about 80 layoffs. Only a day after being laid-off, he got his job at Grossmont College. Since then, Jim Gillan has been here on campus, helping to keep Grossmont clean and safe.

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Lindquist is a student in Media Comm 132.