Milton A Gilman passed away peacefully in his home in Lantana, FL, on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. He was 92 years old. He leaves behind his children Maxine Glassman and her husband Jerry of Clinton, CT and Delray Beach, FL; his son Dr. Robert Gilman and his wife Christine of Dedham, MA; his grandchildren Dr. David Glassman and his wife Michele of Woodbridge, CT, Erin Glassman of Corte Madeira, CA, Alex Gilman of Los Angeles, CA, Nick Gilman also of Los Angeles, CA; and his great-grandchildren, Eva Glassman, Ian Glassman, Bodhi Bartle, and Frederick Bartle. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Florence Gilman, and his brothers Herb and Irving Gilman. Milton was truly a member of what has been termed “The Greatest Generation”. He lived through the great depression and World War II. In fact, he was one of the first fathers drafted in 1942, when his daughter Maxine was only five months old. Milton was a professional musician at that time, so he joined an army band, thinking he would avoid the European Fronts. However, in 1944 the band was dissolved and he was assigned to the 81st Armored Medical Battalion, which landed in France and marched through Europe to Austria. There, he participated in the liberation of Mauthausen Concentration Camp near Linz, Austria, where his unit was responsible for saving many survivors. For years he couldn’t talk about this experience, however, in recent years he has wanted to tell the story to help insure that the cruelty of the Holocaust will not be forgotten. Milton came from very humble beginnings, raised on a farm in Windsor, CT with no heat or electricity. At that time, he managed to earn money and independence by playing the saxophone with various big bands. After the War he secured a responsible job as the financial manager at Maytex Fabrics. However, Milton was ambitious and had dreams for himself and his family. He and his brother Irving learned the discount department store business from cousins who were early pioneers in the field. Milton’s mother and father mortgaged their farm to sustain this family dream and the first Ames Dept Store was opened in 1958 in Southbridge, MA. The business was wildly successful and many other stores followed. To complete the dream of a Gilman family business, his brother Herbert joined the company in 1959. The company became a New York Stock Exchange institution in 1963. It was a dream come true for Milton and the Gilman family. The business ran very successfully while the Gilmans remained in control. Unfortunately, heath issues forced Milton’s retirement in 1980 and Irving retired with him. Herb became the CEO but was also forced to leave for health reasons. Milton, in his retirement, became the soul surviving brother. Always a workaholic, nobody believed that Milton would appreciate his leisure. Again, he rose to the occasion, taking up golf with the same passion he undertook everything else in his life. Even as his heart was failing, he went out to hit balls on the range.Milton’s life was also a beautiful love story. He met a magnificent woman, Florence Sack, and decided that she was the one for him. He pursued her with his usual persistence and she finally agreed to marry him. They had 67 blissful years together and were known to tape love letters to the mirrors in their house. Milton was an example of a hard working man with solid family values. His wife and children were everything to him.
Milton has been a benefactor of the Sharai Shalom Synagogue in Boynton Beach, FL, The Hebrew Home and Hospital, the Mt Sinai and Hartford Hospitals, and the FAU Center for Adult Learning (where the lobby is named for him). He has been on the Board of the Worcester Bank and Trust and has been honored, along with his brothers, by the Discount Store News. He was also honored at the 40th anniversary of Ames by Donald Trump. Milton, and especially Herb, were friends of Sam Walton. Walton came to get advice from the Gilmans for his new chain of stores called Walmart. It is unfortunate that the business did not survive once the Gilmans left, but the legacy is still remarkable.
Funeral services will be held Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 10:30 AM in the Chapel of the Weinstein Mortuary, 640 Farmington Ave., Hartford, CT with interment in the Emanuel Synagogue Cemetery, 1361 Berlin Turnpike, Wethersfield, CT. The family will receive relatives and friends directly after the interment at the Marriott in Rocky Hill. Shiva will be observed Sunday and Monday starting at 7:00 PM at Beach Park, 30 West Walk, Clinton, CT. In lieu of flowers, donations in Milton’s honor may be made to the Hebrew Health Care, 1 Abrahms Blvd., West Hartford, CT 06117 (www.hebrewhealthcare.org), the March of the Living, 2 West 45th St., Suite 1500, NY, NY 10036 (www.motl.org), or Healing The Children Northeast, P.O. Box 129, 219 Kent Rd., Suite 20, New Milford, CT 06776 (www.htcne.org). For further information, directions, or to sign the guestbook for Milton, please visit online at www.weinsteinmortuary.com/funerals.cfm