Dr. Harold Eugene Gilliland departed this life at eighty-four years of age on September 9, 2021 in Austin, Texas, of complications from COVID-19 after battling cerebellar ataxia for several years.
Harold was born September 9, 1937 to Lonnie and Lillian (Baade) Gilliland in Duncan, Oklahoma. He was the valedictorian of the first graduating class of John Marshall (initially Britton) High School, Oklahoma City, in 1955. He continued his education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1959 and was awarded the Haslam Cup for “demonstrating outstanding professional promise in Chemical Engineering.” Upon graduation, Harold pursued a one-year program in graduate studies in Physical and Inorganic Chemistry on a Fulbright Scholarship he was awarded to the University of Bristol, England, completing the program in 1960. Thereafter, he returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and received both his Master’s (1961) and Doctorate (1964) degrees in Chemical Engineering from M.I.T.
From June 1959 to September 1996, he held various positions at Conoco, Inc. (now ConocoPhillips) in Oklahoma and then Houston, Texas where he retired as Manager of the Reservoir Technology Center managing projects worldwide for Conoco. He was a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and a past member of the Visiting Committee for the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.
Harold loved music, especially opera. Though he appreciated the current, famous tenors, he often lamented that there was no longer a Pavarotti and that there would never be another Caruso. He sought out and heard the most gifted sopranos and cherished his memories of hearing Leontyne Price at the Metropolitan Opera. He served on the Member Board of Trustees of the Houston Grand Opera and the Member Trustee Committee for the Houston Grand Opera Studio; the latter providing young, gifted singers an opportunity to both study and perform with the opera company. Harold was also an avid reader of the classics, as well as of world history and fiction, and he loved doing crossword puzzles and watching PBS and Downton Abbey. He was very fond of travel and went all over the world as both a representative of Conoco, Inc. and for leisure on his own and with friends. Among his favorite destinations was Hawaii, especially Ka’anapali, Maui, which became a frequent stop for rest and relaxation.
After his retirement in 1996 from Conoco, Inc., Harold became passionate about fitness and exercise, especially road cycling. He started cycling to raise money for charities and rode in innumerable cycling events that each spanned several days, including rides in Texas from Houston to Austin and San Antonio to Corpus Christi to raise money for multiple sclerosis research (MS 150 Rides). He also rode in California, Texas, the northeastern United States and Canada, among other places, to raise money for AIDS research; and completed the California AIDS Ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles on several occasions. He later pushed himself by racing competitively in international cycling and excelled, winning in his age group in different cycling events.
Harold was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Lonnie and Lillian Gilliland; his brother Dr. Lonnie Gilliland, Jr. and wife Annabel; his brother Dr. Donald C. Gilliland; a brother-in-law, Warren Wilson; a nephew, Lonnie Gilliland III; and Harold’s life partner of seventeen years, Donovan Duplant.
Harold is survived by his sister, Barbara Wilson; a sister-in-law, Jan Gilliland; a special niece, Ann Gilliland, who often accompanied him on his travels; as well as a host of relatives and friends throughout the United States.
We would like to thank the dedicated staff at The Brookdale Galleria in Houston, Texas and The Querencia Plaza at Barton Creek, Austin, Texas –both places Harold made his home the last few years –and the wonderful caregivers at Halcyon Home and Hospice, Austin, Texas for their care and attention. Finally, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to Harold’s long time friend, Al Amado, for his tireless supervision and care of Harold since May 2017 when Harold could no longer live on his own in his house.
Graveside services will be held at Memorial Park Cemetery, 13313 North Kelly Avenue, Oklahoma City on Friday, September 24, 2021 at 10:30AM under the direction of Hahn-Cook/Street & Draper Funeral Directors, with a reception immediately following interment.