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Gillespie enters New York Hall of Fame ADVERTISEMENT

Gillespie enters New York Hall of Fame

ALBANY--Joined by senators from around the state, State Senator Tom O'Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) announced the induction of 100-year-old Richard T. "Dick" Gillespie of Penn Yan and a veteran of World War II, into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame during a virtual ceremony on Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11. Gillespie, who was the selection for the 58th Senate District, was one of 60 veterans throughout the state to be inducted into the hall of fame this year, the second year in a row that it was held virtually due to the COVID pandemic.
"Dick Gillespie courageously and remarkably served our nation as part of the Greatest Generation and then returned home where he worked to strengthen his community, including right here in Yates County over the past two decades," O'Mara said. "It has been a life well lived and I am glad to take this chance to express our collective gratitude and respect to Dick and his family."
Born on August 14, 1921, in Fulton, New York, Gillespie was a trailblazer at Syracuse University and earned his pilot's license through the Federal Civilian Pilot Training Program and subsequently enlisted in the military in 1943. During his military career, Gillespie was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps' 447th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force and flew a B-17 Boeing Bomber, known by the popular moniker of Flying Fortress, on 21 missions over Germany, leading a nine-man crew through what was called "flak alley" and never lost a plane to enemy fire.
"It's a great honor and a privilege to induct Dick Gillespie into the Senate Veterans' Hall of Fame to help ensure that he will be remembered for generations to come as an outstanding New York state veteran," O'Mara added. "It's a well-deserved and well-earned tribute. We take this opportunity to salute lives of service to our local communities, our state, and the United States of America."
He was honorably discharged in November 1945 with the rank of First Lieutenant and subsequently returned to New York with his wife Jean where he became Syracuse University's first Aeronautical Engineering graduate in 1948. Despite his experience and degree, Gillespie served in the Air Force Reserve and ran his family's milk processing and delivery business along with his wife and four sons.
Relocating to Penn Yan in 1999, Gillespie subsequently served on the board of the First Presbyterian Church and volunteered with the Meals on Wheels program and at the Yates Community Center. In 2014 he was named Volunteer of the Year by the Yates County Cultural and Recreation Center. Earlier this year, the county legislature honored his 100th birthday and dedication of service to others.
Gillespie was nominated for the hall of fame by Yates County Legislator P. Earle Gleason, a former and longtime director of the Yates County Veterans' Service Agency and himself an inductee into the Veterans' Hall of Fame in 2016.
The New York State Senate established the Veterans' Hall of Fame in 2005, and including the 60 inductees this year, has a membership of nearly 500 veterans.
The Veterans Day virtual tribute is available for public viewing on O'Mara's Senate website,

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