Dovie Nell Gilless – joyful, humble, patient, non-judgemental, selfless, and with proclaimed faith, was called home by her Heavenly Father on Friday morning, Jan. 8, 2016, at the young age of 93. She was a cherished mother, precious grandmother, doting great-grandmother, and thoughtful friend to all who were blessed to know her.
Nell was born Sept. 26, 1922, in San Marcos, Texas to Alfred and Etta Holtermann, where she was the youngest of eight children. Before graduating from San Marcos High School in 1940, Nell’s love of singing led her to become a member of the of the glee club, of which she later fondly recalled all the trips giving concerts around Texas. After graduation she briefly attended Southwest Texas State Teacher’s College where she was a member of the Literary Society in 1942. Later that same year, on Dec. 16th, Nell married Clyde Gilless, Sr. in South Carolina, but not before winning a jitterbug contest together while dating. The newlyweds lived there for a short while before Clyde went overseas for World War II. Nell moved back to San Marcos in 1943, and when Clyde returned from the war, they welcomed their first son, Clyde Harmon, Jr. in 1946. In the late 40s the couple moved to La Marque, Texas where they had their only daughter, Jan, and opened their own photography studio upon Clyde’s graduation from the University of Houston. Eventually moving to Hallettsville, Texas in the mid 50s, Nell’s third child, Brad, was born.
The following few years were difficult and included several more moves for the family. Finally, in 1959, Nell moved back to San Marcos as a single mother. She managed life with grace and a quiet strength while supporting her three children on a waitress salary at Carson’s Restaurant. She found comfort on Sunday mornings with her family at the First Methodist Church in San Marcos. Eventually, she earned a job as the college Postmaster at Southwest Texas and was proud to work in Old Main on campus. Not having the time or money to travel herself, Nell’s sisters often sent her postcards from their travels. Nell loved to tape them on the walls of the Old Main post office, eventually capturing the attention of many professors, who began sending her postcards from their travels as well. She worked as the Postmaster until her retirement in 1983.
After retirement, Nell moved to San Antonio to be near her daughter Jan’s young family. It was during these years that Nell was affectionately given the name “Numna” by her first granddaughter. It was that nickname, which she wore like a badge of honor, that those closest to her would call her for the next 34 years. In 1986 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but her optimistic attitude and faithful heart carried her graciously through her battle without a single complaint. She became a member of University United Methodist Church in San Antonio and drove herself nearly every Sunday until the age of 85, unless it was raining. Her cherished Bible, given to her by her late son in 1986, is full of her handwritten notes of favorite verses and scripture lessons.
Numna considered her three children her greatest accomplishment and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren her greatest joy. You could always find her joyful spirit singing, whistling, or discussing the beautiful flowers wherever she saw them. She enjoyed playing a friendly game of Hand and Foot or Skip-Bo, watching I Love Lucy reruns, Lawrence Welk, or old musicals. She loved to have lunch at Luby’s, even if by herself. She was a lover of Glenn Miller, George Strait, Russell Stover’s chocolates, Disney World, and most of all, spending time with her “precious” family.
To cherish her memories, Nell leaves behind her daughter and son-in-law Jan and Rusty Eulenfeld of Austin, Texas; son and daughter-in-law Brad and Linda Gilless of Spring, Texas, daughter-in-law Margo Gilless of Rockdale, Texas; grandchildren Chad Gilless and wife Sunny, Eric Gilless and wife Kim, Erin Crews and husband Aaron, Lindsay Eulenfeld, Caitlin Gilless, and Evan Gilless. Nell also leaves behind six great-grandchildren, Owen, Mason, and Jack Crews, Laylea Gilless, and Garner and Smith Gilless. She is preceded in death by her parents Alfred and Etta Holtermann; son, Clyde Gilless, Jr.; and siblings Madie, Gwen, Minnie B., Ruth, Bee, Raymond, and Leroy.
Visitation will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 at First United Methodist Church of San Marcos at 129 W. Hutchison Street. The memorial service will begin at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of San Marcos. Nell will be buried immediately following the service at the San Marcos Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association either online at alz.org or by check, mailed to The Alzheimer’s Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011.