Jack Kenneth Gilden
Jack Kenneth Gilden, 70, of Alpharetta, Georgia, passed away Friday, July 5, 2019, after battling cancer.

Jack was born in 1948 in Pullman, Washington, and later was an All-State football star at Annandale High School in Virginia. He earned a full scholarship at Vanderbilt University where he joined ROTC and became a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army. He was destined for the Army Corps of Engineers, before receiving an Honorable Discharge, as the Vietnam War came to a close. Jack earned a Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree in Engineering from Vanderbilt University while playing football for the Commodores. A true Commodore until the end, Jack on June 26 had all his children and grandchildren over despite his deteriorating condition - and insisted on staying up until the baseball game was over - to watch as Vanderbilt beat Michigan to capture the College World Series.

After college, Jack's first job was as construction supervisor on the first mixed-used complex in Atlanta, Georgia - Colony Square, which still stands today. He then worked for Gold Kist for 21 years as Director, Agriservices Engineering, often traveling across the southeast to soybean and poultry facilities to oversee upgrades and facility maintenance.

Jack played on Gold Kist's softball team for many years with his daughter Christine Dunn and son-in-law Brian Dunn, who all made lifelong friends on the field. Jack also enjoyed playing tennis doubles with his daughter. They won several company tournaments. He also spent many hours on the racquetball court with his son, Michael Cazalas, teaching him not to get between Jack and the front wall.

Jack loved to sail and raced his boat, Magic, on Lake Lanier with Lake Lanier Sailing Club. Jack was a superb handyman and a skilled woodworker - still sleeping in the bed that he made in the early 1980's. He loved 1960s music - like the Beach Boys' 409 about another of his loves: cars. He treasured his 1959 Austin Healey that he obtained as junk for $400 in the 1970s and completely restored.

After Gold Kist, Jack became a Managing Partner at Vaughn Coltrane Pharr & Associates until his retirement in 2014. In retirement, Jack continued to work on many projects with the company as a consultant. In later years, when sailing became less feasible, Jack took up shooting and became a skilled marksman, spending most Father's Days at the range with his children, grandchildren and family.

Jack spent most of his time with his family eating many good meals together and coordinating two RV excursions with his wife, children and grandchildren to Oklahoma for Thanksgivings that are now family lore. Jack attended all graduations, musicals, concerts and soccer games - anything involving his grandchildren. Jack also loved his cat, Z. David, spending hours a day playing with him and taking care of him.
Jack's biggest impact was on his children, whom he not only parented but to whom he was an advisor, a protector, a friend, a mentor, that voice telling you to do the next right thing - an example for all on how to live a good life without regret or recrimination.

Jack is preceded in death by his parents, Madeline F. Gilden and Robert O. Gilden. Surviving relatives include his wife, Karen M. Gilden; two children, son Michael K. Cazalas and daughter Christine C. Dunn (Brian E. Dunn); four grandchildren, Katherine N. Dunn, Kelsey B. Dunn, Dylan K. Cazalas and Jack C. Dunn; two siblings, brother Ronald Gilden and sister Leanne Gilden Ward (Stan Ward); two nephews Jeremy Gilden and Jeff Brown; and two nieces Abby Gilden Frankel and Beth Brown.

Memorial services will be held Saturday, July 13, 2019, at 11 a.m. at Midway United Methodist Church, 5025 Atlanta Hwy, Alpharetta, GA. Reception will follow in Fellowship Hall of Midway United Methodist Church.

Memorial contributions may be made by donating to one of Jack's favorite veterans' charities, Fisher House Foundation, Inc. 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Ste 410, Rockville, MD 20852 (https://www.fisherhouse.org/. ) or to Midway United Methodist Church.
Published on July 11, 2019


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