Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 

Giving for the Girls

Leila Gillespie



Leila Gillespie volunteers every day (except for Tuesdays when she is at Bible study) at the Ardmore Senior Center.  Every morning she arrives and wraps all the silverware.  Then she prepares the cups of milk, buttermilk, and water.  When the “seniors” arrive for lunch, Leila assists people with their lunch trays.  “I carry the trays for those that aren’t able to do it themselves,” she said.

Raised on a farm in Clements, Kansas, Leila was the oldest of six children—three brothers and two sisters.  In 1926, she graduated from high school and she begged her father to let her attend business school.  He finally allowed it after much persuasion from Leila and her mother.  Leila graduated from business school and was hired by an insurance company, and later worked for a law firm.

In the town where she worked, a popular hang-out for singles was a nearby cemetery. In the cemetery was a music tower that played beautiful music and it was meeting place for many young people.  Leila laughs as she tells of meeting her future husband, Charles, in a cemetery.

A few months after the birth of their son, Charles “Richard” Gillespie, the couple moved to Tacoma, Washington, in 1937.  Charles started a small produce hauling business, hauling potatoes over the mountains in his truck. They had a few friends in Tacoma, but Leila was homesick for Kansas and convinced Charles they should move back home.

After graduating from high school, Richard left home to go to college. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in physics.  For 19 years, Leila had worked as a homemaker and receptionist for Charles’ delivery business.  When Richard moved out, she decided to go back to work for an insurance company until retirement.

Leila and Charles loved to camp and one of their favorite camping spots was Lake Murray. In 1981, they built a house in Ardmore and made Oklahoma their permanent home.

A lifelong Methodist, it was the acts of kindness from an Oklahoma Baptist pastor that converted Leila.  Many of her family members had battled cancer and died, including her only child Richard.  Tragedy struck once again a few years after Richard died suddenly from multiple brain tumors, when Charles was diagnosed with cancer and became very ill. Because the couple didn’t have a pastor, a friend called Rev. Monty Baggett and he came to the hospital to visit a couple he had never met.  “My husband was really bad that day and Bro. Monty gave me his card and said, ‘Call me if you ever need anything.’  That night Charles died.”

The next morning Leila called Monty and he came back to visit and continued to minister to the family by preaching the funeral service.  After the service Leila thanked Monty for his kindness and said, “You’ve been so good to me that I promise now I’m going to be Baptist!”  The next week she attended services at First Baptist, Ardmore.  “To be Baptist I had to get baptized again in my 90s!” Leila laughed.

As a new Baptist, Leila began receiving the Baptist Messenger. Through reading the Messenger, Leila learned about the ministries of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children and the Baptist Home for Girls in Madill.  She read about the benefits of establishing a gift annuity and decided she wanted to set up a gift annuity to benefit the Girls Home.

Leila has now established a total of five gift annuities through The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma benefiting the Baptist Home for Girls.

“Gift annuities give me much better interest than CDs,” said Leila. “That’s what I’m living off now is all the interest on my annuities.” Leila has enjoyed the fixed income for life and the tax benefits, but her greatest reward from her planned giving has been the joy she has found in watching her money at work.

Through volunteering at the Girls Home she has made special friendships with those she’s helping.  “They call me ‘Grandma,’” she beams.

“I’m so happy that I can help out those girls,” she said. “It’s really rewarding to see the benefit of what your money can do to help those that need it.”

Leila encourages others to consider helping their favorite ministries by establishing a gift annuity.  “I don’t know how much longer the good Lord is going to give me but I’m going to give and help while I can.”


First printed in the Trust Times - Winter 2007.
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