Ronald J. Gillen

Ronald “Ron” James Gillen

Ron Gillen went home to be with the Lord on January 13, 2024 — his final earthside residence being the piney woods near Livingston, Texas.

Ron was born on April 25, 1955, in Dayton, Ohio to Richard and Winifred “Wynne” Gillen. Born the third child, he joined twin older siblings that were less than a year old and would soon get to be the older brother of four younger siblings. He grew up as an honorary twin with his sister Amy (both redheads and born a year apart) and with oodles of individuality and character. As a young and fiery boy, Ron was embraced by everyone for his wit, charm, and ability to make you laugh. He was proud to be one of the seven children in what we called ourselves: the “Gillen Gang”. Ron loved old cars, classic rock, all types of movies, spending time with his family and friends with a cocktail in hand, the Green Bay Packers, a challenge of any kind, and an audience since he was a self-proclaimed jokester and comedian.

He attended Stephen F. Austin University where he majored in Forestry. He always had a love of nature — learning about it and being in it. He remained in awe of God’s creations. His favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors were gardening, camping, and fishing.

He was a general contractor by trade. He started his career building homes and eventually became a superintendent of commercial building projects (primarily daycare centers, restaurants, and dialysis centers) throughout Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and the Midwest. His most local claim to fame is the Olive Garden on I-45 in Pasadena — a building we all point out to this day as “Ron’s Olive Garden”. Later, Ron turned his love of carpentry and woodworking into creating beautiful trim work, architectural features, and making cross art pieces.

Ron married the love of his life, Brenda, in June of 1998. They truly lived, laughed, and loved! They enjoyed life in their fifth wheel RV while Ron took contracting jobs all over the United States. They eventually put down roots and bought a house in Huntsville, Alabama. Sadly, Brenda passed away in 2015. Ron missed his gal terribly but found solace in knowing she was in Heaven and that one day he would get to spend eternity with her.

Ron knew God and had a strong faith. He was a member of the Church of the Nazarene and would find a church close by to join as he lived his life in his RV. He loved meeting the new pastors and, not surprisingly, would always break the ice by telling them a joke.

Ron was stepfather to two grown children, Amy and Daniel, an honorary foster father to Kayleigh, and a grandfather to four grandchildren who lovingly called him “Papa Ron”. He was also a devoted dog dad to numerous four-legged fur babies. He was known to be sentimental and was quick to shed a tear when sharing a memory or sentiment. He loved hard.

Ron is preceded in death by his wife, Brenda Gillen, his parents, Dick and Wynne Gillen, and his brother-in-law, Dennis Lewis.

He is survived by his siblings, Paul Gillen, Mary Lewis, Amy Lewis (and her husband, Nate), Dave Gillen (and his wife, Kathy), Sandy Cantu (and her husband, Rick), and Peggy Nelson; his grandchildren, nieces, and nephews; his great grandchild, great nieces, and nephews; and his many close friends.

There will be a Memorial Service at: Crowder Funeral Home, 111 W. Medical Center Blvd., Webster, TX 77598. Saturday, January 27, 2024 at 2:00 pm

For those wishing to make a charitable donation in his honor, please contribute to the charity of your choice or to Bay Area Habitat for Humanity Donation Form (



  1. I have great memories of my childhood watching Ron and Dave getting the wizard running and blasting around the neighborhood. It was great seeing him and some of the family here in Livingston. Prayers for the family. He will be missed. Dale & Tina

    Dale Starkey
  2. One of the first guys I ever met moving into El Lago in the 60’s. Ron and his siblings, Dick and Wynne, the Gillen Family were wonderful caring people who ALWAYS made you feel like one of the family when you were in their home. Ron could always make us laugh and he was a hard worker and dedicated to his friends. I hadn’t seen him in years but the world is a colder place without him. He will be missed by ALL who had the great fortune to know him.

    Dennis Dochen Hart
  3. Amy, Nate & Family,
    Please accept our sincerest condolences for the loss of Ron.
    It sounds like your brother lived a wonderful life!
    God Bless and keep him.
    We are truly sorry for your loss.
    ~ Cosmo & Renee Parisi

    Renee Parisi
  4. My cousin Ron was a kind soul to everyone he met. He always had a smile and a kind word for you. Ron loved his wife Brenda and all his family dearly. I had the pleasure of joining Ron and his siblings on a cruise to Honduras and Mexico last May, we all enjoyed our time together and spoke of the many times the Gillen family would travel to Wisconsin to join my family on vacation. The times together we would play softball as there were enough cousins together for two teams. Ron will be greatly missed by many. Cheers to you Ron!

    Elizabeth Robbins
  5. Sandy, we are so sorry for your loss. Please know we are thinking of you. You are lucky to have a large family to support each other.
    Shirley Koralewski

    Shirley Koralewski
  6. I got to know Ron when I volunteered to do some work for a organization in Huntsville, Alabama that took teenagers and older kids off the street to get them into school and help them find a job and transportation and put them back on their feet. Ron was a master carpenter on projects such as expanding the homes or adopting them for
    The handicapped children. We became good friends in a short amount of time. I will miss him terribly.

    Larry Yeary
  7. I didn’t know Ron for long but he was one guy you could never forget. He had tons of jokes, seems I got a new one every day! We watched out for each other and I am missing him terribly. When I look out my window I can see where he was and I deeply feel the loss of my friend. He was most definitely one of a kind.

    Cara Free
  8. I meant Ron in Austin about 1990, we were Neighbors in an apartment complex. Was just a few days and we were already friends, I was working in floor covering and run was building La Petite child care centers. We shared a lot of Adventures in and around Austin and the surrounding Hill Country. Took me to Houston to meet his family one time I remember how excited I was to meet them and how proud run was to introduce me to his wonderful family, within the next couple of years Ron made a trip to come in visit my family and spend some time golfing, we had a blast! It says my heart that Ron is gone, but I’m forever thankful for the friendship that he gave to me, he was a wonderful honest hard-working good person.

    R o l l y Wells
  9. We have such rich and wonderful memories of growing up with our Gillen Cousins. It was a big deal when we were able to visit, as we lived in Illinois and they were eventually in Texas which we thought was pretty exotic. Ron had such a sweet and gentle personality underneath his keen sense of humor. He was great fun to be around, as were his siblings. Together – watch out!
    As we all get older these memories are especially treasured. We will miss you Ron and your incomparable spirit!!

    Love from Kathy, Bob, Tom, Linda

    Kathy Gillen Kinka
  10. Deepest condolences to the Gillen family. Cousin Ron will be greatly missed. With every conversation was a joke followed by a laugh-with Ron laughing also. RIP Ron.

    Alice Wolfgram
  11. I was born with (2) brothers, picked up (3) more when I married into the Gillen family and he was one of them. He was a fun, unique character and was a master of collecting and retelling jokes. He was one of those guys who could design, build and repair almost anything that was not nuclear powered (a craftsman and a comic). I grew to love and appreciate Ron, his siblings, his parents and their extended family. His passing is the end of an era, the first of the seven kids to move on from these Earthly bounds, the first to be re-united with the two people that gave him his start and made him what he was. I was blessed to know him and his family and I will not forget him, his family or the times that we shared together. And yes, I picked up (3) fun, loving and loyal sisters at that wedding too.

    "Nate" (Eugene) Lewis

Leave Your Condolences

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. Basic HTML code is allowed.