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John Calvin Silliman

October 5, 1913 - January 30, 2018

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John Calvin Silliman, 104, passed away on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, at Westminster Canterbury, his Lynchburg home for the past two years.

John was born on October 5, 1913, in Palestine, Texas, to the late Dr. John Calvin Silliman and Bertha Umstead Silliman. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Ruth Elizabeth Silliman Larsen and his brother, Captain Julian Winthrop Silliman, and his adoring wife of 65 years, Jane Priscilla Thompson Silliman.

John leaves to cherish his memories a daughter, Patricia Marie Silliman Gowen (Tony) of Lynchburg, Virginia, and a son, Richard Calvin Silliman (Debbie) of Kent, Washington, as well as five grandchildren, John Howerton Gowen (Susan), Denver, Colorado; Christopher Mullen Gowen (Bartlett), Lynchburg, Virginia; Heather Jane Gowen Sapp (Jason) Easley, South Carolina; Richard Todd Silliman (Mel), San Francisco, California; and Jessica Beth Silliman, Seattle, Washington. “Papa John” is also survived by nine precious great grandchildren, John Howerton Gowen, Jr., Wilson Scott Gowen, Luke Tolleson Gowen, Jordan Priscilla Sapp, Calvin James Sapp, Evelyn Rose Gowen, Jane Elizabeth Gowen, Alexandria Eva Silliman and Scarlet Marina Silliman.

At three years of age, John’s family moved to Palo Alto, California, where he graduated from Palo Alto High School. He entered Stanford University, joined Sigma Chi fraternity and graduated with honors in engineering.  He continued at Stanford, earning a Master’s Degree in aeronautical and civil engineering and joining the Engineering Honorary.  Following graduation, John moved to Los Angeles, California, and married Jane Priscilla.  There, he was employed by Douglass Aircraft Company and Northrup Aviation during World War II, designing aircraft for the war effort.  After the War, he continued his aeronautical career by day, taught returning G.I.’s engineering classes during the evening at the University of Southern California and somehow found time to help raise a family.  He loved having the opportunity to give to others, his main goal throughout his life.

His professional life continued with a change to civil engineering, and his family moved to Portland, Oregon. Business travels included Saudi Arabia and Bogota, Columbia.  The last five years of Dad’s career were spent in Honolulu, Hawaii, thoroughly enjoyed by our parents.  Retirement took them to Los Angeles, California, where he enjoyed golfing, traveling, gardening, tinkering, visiting the High Sierras of California and cherishing his time with family and friends.

John’s family would like to thank the Staff on Drinkard’s Sixth Floor for their incredible professionalism, comfort and endless kindnesses. We would also like to acknowledge Susan Carol’s soothing musical care visits of enjoyment and peace, he loved every minute.

A Celebration and Thanksgiving for his life will be held on August 5, 2018 at Saint Francis of the Mountains Episcopal Chapel, Fallen Leaf Lake, California, as well as Cliff Haven, our Silliman Family cottage, built in 1927, where our family and friends have visited many times and shared countless happy memories. The perfect place to honor Dad.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.

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