Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gale Gillingham R.I.P.

Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers exemplified athletic excellence for a generation of Americans

Gale Gillingham, starting guard for the Packers

For anyone who followed American football in the 60's, excellence wore green and gold. Vince Lombardi was almost worshipped as the personification of a winning coach and the Packers were the kings of the football world. It was a different time when players weren't automatically multi-millionaires and coaches still ran their teams with an iron fist. The Packers worked hard and put team first. They were physical and the Packer sweep was their trademark. Both guards pulled and led the sweep. For much of the decade the two guards were Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston. Later in the decade a young rookie named Gale Gillingham took Fuzzy's place and the Packers never missed a beat. They won the first two super bowls and who can forget the NFL championship game against the Dallas Cowboys when Bart Starr followed Jerry Kramer into the endzone for the winnig score in sub zero temperatures. Fullback Jimmy Taylor was one of the first players to use weight training and to publicize it. Gale Gillingham was another. It is inspiring to read that he was lifting at the time of his passing. While Gale was a super athlete himself with a great career of his own, perhaps his greatest legacy in the athletic world is his amazing offspring. I don't know of any other family in the world of strength that has reached the level of accomplishment of the Gillinghams. All 3 brothers have been world class performers in various aspects of powerlifting, strong man, and of course, gripping feats. We extend our condolences and sincere best wishes to them.
Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame guard Gale Gillingham died at his home in Minnesota while lifting weights, his son said Friday. He was 67.
Wade Gillingham said the former Pro Bowler appeared to have had a heart attack Thursday at his home in Little Falls, but his family doesn't have confirmation on a cause of death.
Gillingham, inducted in the Packers Hall of Fame in 1982, was Green Bay's first-round draft choice and 13th overall in 1966 from the University of Minnesota. He played off the bench as a rookie and took veteran Fuzzy Thurston's spot during the 1967 season opposite All-Pro Jerry Kramer during the Vince Lombardi era.
He blocked for Bart Starr when the quarterback was leading the Packers to the first two Super Bowl victories in 1967 and 1968 and after leaving the team in 1974, returned to play for Starr when he was coach in 1976. Gillingham was a five-time Pro Bowler, six-time All Pro and played in 128 regular-season games for the Packers.
Wade Gillingham, 40, said his father retired last fall after operating Goedker Realty in Minnesota following his professional football career.''He was a great Dad, a humble man and simple,'' his son said.

Gillingham, born in Madison, moved to Little Falls, Minn., with his family when he was in high school. He was divorced with three sons and a daughter and traveled the world watching two of his sons compete in strongman and power-lifting contests.

Karl Gillingham

Wade Gillingham

Brad Gillingham

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