A century for Sherman

Glenn Wallace
Posted 8/23/12

Sherman S. Gillett operated a bull dozer until he was 90. He would have kept working, if his eyesight hadn’t faded. “And I kept busy all them …

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A century for Sherman


Sherman S. Gillett operated a bull dozer until he was 90. He would have kept working, if his eyesight hadn’t faded.

“And I kept busy all them years,” Sherman said.

Gillett, who celebrated his 100th birthday last week, says it was his work ethic, “keeping busy,” that helped him live to such a venerable age. Over an entire century, Gillett’s work ethic has led him down many paths, starting at an early age. Born on Aug. 18, 1912, in Bennett to Arthur and Ethel Gillett, Sherman and his five siblings would sell popcorn at town dances to earn the family money.

Sherman showed an early inclination towards technical skill, and still can boast knowing how to break down and reassemble a Model A car. What does he think about cars nowadays?

“Sure has been some change!” he says.

At the age of 21 Sherman signed on with the Civilian Conservation Corps, working in Oklahoma and Texas on reservoir projects. The corps taught him mechanical skills and heavy equipment operating, which would serve him well later in life.

He married Vera Williams in 1938. To hear him tell it, the two had a very short courtship and a long marriage. In the 45 years before Vera died in 1983, the couple raised three children. In 1941 the family moved to a small cinderblock home on West 7th Avenue in Golden.

It was there Sherman and Vera would raise their three daughters, and also where they would open their own excavation company, saving up the cash to pay for a D-4 Caterpillar.

“I built roads and dug basements all over. I had a grader, and in the winter I’d push snow for the School of Mines,” Sherman recalls.

The daughters all graduated from Golden High School, which the youngest daughter Ethel Nova, born in 1942, said was a great environment.

“I thought it was fantastic,” she said. “We had great school spirit, town spirit.”

Ethel married her high school sweetheart and still lives in the area, visiting her father several times a week.

Sherman held countless jobs in his life, including a stint at the Federal Center, manufacturing ammunition for Remington.

He recalls working for the Parfait family and on portions of Lookout Mountain Road.

He remembers a few close calls in all those years, including the time he almost lost his trailer over an icy Loveland Pass and the time he was trapped in a ditch along South Golden Road.

“I was just getting ready to get out when all of the bank caved in on me. People from across the road came over and dug me out.”

Sherman isn’t all work and no play though. Ask about his fondest memories, and he can tell you about several of his hunting and fishing trips.

“I went to Canada moose hunting once and got a great big moose. He probably weighted 500 to 600 pounds, anyway.”

Then there’s his current rock star status at the Lakewood Estates, the assisted living facility in Lakewood where he now lives.

When it is entertainment time, Sherman is known to break out a harmonica and his singing voice.

He learned his favorite song from hobos he met as a young man. The tune ends with the words, I’m a thousand miles from home, just waiting for a train.”


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