Remembering Mark Gilkey

Mark J. Gilkey

Mark J. Gilkey died September 8, 2020, days before his 93rd birthday.  He was born in 1927 to parents William and Martha Gilkey.  He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Janet Riemenschneider, a former United Airlines stewardess, daughters: Marnet Vammen (Greg) and Martha Siegert; grandchildren: Blake, Kian and Callie; brother Charles and nephew John Thomas.  He is predeceased by his wife of four years Kathleen Sullivan, who died in 1956, and sister Corrine Thomas.

While Mark spent a good portion of his life in Seattle, his spirit was formed by the lands and seas of Skagit County.  Growing up in Anacortes and spending summers on Guemes Island as a boy, he embarked on numerous storybook-like adventures.  He and his brother Charles wanted their own Guemes Island quarters so they built a log cabin on the family property that still stands today.  They also took a rowboat trip together to Victoria, and were monitored, unbeknownst to them, by the watchful eyes of Gilkey Brothers Towing Company family members.

Mark graduated from Anacortes High School in 1945.  After graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Air Force.  After discharge he attended the University of Washington from 1946-1951.  When the draft board came calling for the Korean War, Mark enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, receiving a pilot commission in 1952.  As First Lieutenant he flew in the Strategic Air Command, attached to the 509th bomber squadron that involved carrying the atomic bomb.

After Korea, he began a 31-year career at United Airlines that spanned aircraft from the DC-6 to the DC-10.  He retired as Captain of the Boeing 727.  During his career, he was authorized as a pilot-in-command check airman.

Mark was a member of Retired United Pilots Association, Airline Pilots Association, Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, Sigma Nu Fraternity, and a life member of Seattle Yacht Club.

One of Mark’s signature traits was his incredible sense of humor and great stories.  We all learned a lot about tugboats and his maritime passion.

The family would like to thank the loving staff at Rosario Assisted Living of Anacortes for his care this past year.  A memorial celebration will be at a later date.

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