The Filmmaker's Reflections
About the Filmmaker
by Pam Rondeau
JOAN GILKISON WAS BORN IN PENNSYLVANIA, the only child of John and Lulu Mae Lloyd. When she was eleven years of old, her father’s employer, Westinghouse, transferred the family to Buffalo, New York, where Joan lived until she went to college. Joan attended Taylor University in Indiana, where she met her husband, Bob Gilkison. After she earned a Bachelor of Science in Zoology, Joan and her husband moved to Florida.
While Bob worked on his graduate studies at Florida State University, Joan worked as a Lab Tech at a Tuberculosis Hospital. They only lived in Florida for approximately a year when Bob was recruited to work for the Housing and Home Finance Agency (now known as HUD) in Washington D.C.. While in D.C., Bob had the opportunity to study art and history at the Smithsonian. Bob was passionate about art and he particularly enjoyed pairing the two subjects. Over the years, he collected a wide variety of art. Bob and Joan loved to travel; many of the pieces in Bob’s collection were obtained on family vacations. Some of their adventures include trips to China, Guatemala, Cameroon, and Antarctica. Bob later opened his own business, working as an investment advisor.
Bob and Joan had three children, Valerie, Andrea, and Stuart. Sadly, Valerie died of Chicken Pox when she was only six years old. Aside from being a stay-at-home mom, Joan immersed herself in volunteer work. Some of her roles include a hospital chaplain, Sunday school teacher, and literacy tutor.
Bob and Joan retired in Williamsburg, Virginia. Bob passed away in 2007, after 49 ½ years of marriage. As a way of grieving and consoling herself, Joan started to write poetry. She used her written words to help find and define herself in her new life. With the help of her friend, Allison Brody, and friends at Taylor University, Joan has published two poetry books.
She has been a volunteer chaplain and bedside companion for Hospice, who had provided support and care for her husband. She also loves to sew and she uses her talent to create quilts, wall hangings, pillows, purses, and tote bags, which are donated to organizations to be auctioned off in fund-raisers.
Joan still lives in Williamsburg with her newly adopted dog, a Pekingese named Gracie. ◊
The Filmmakers Reflections
The Wisdom of Age Project
There is much that could be said about my experience creating this project. From the very beginning, I was excited to learn that we would be focusing on the elderly community. My Granddad and Nana, Jimmy and Ruth Thompson, have had a heavy influence in my life. When I was just an infant, they moved in with my family so that my mother, a nurse, could provide care for their declining health. As I child, I was often scolded for sneaking over to their portion of the house, where my Granddad would dazzle with story after story. To this day, I’m still not sure which ones are true. I give him credit for sparking my interest in storytelling.
My Granddad’s death in 1997 was a very difficult time. My Nana is one who consistently amazes me. She is a thoughtful, compassionate, and inspiring woman. She too enjoys telling stories—but hers are true. Aside from family stories, she has shared fascinating accounts of historical events and cultural transitions. In this strange way, both contributed to my interest in fiction and nonfiction, which I sometimes enjoy combining. I often wish that as a child I had the forethought to write down my Granddad’s stories.
Nowadays, I know better and have started compiling stories from my Nana. So, in a way, I can personally relate to and appreciate Dr. Terry Lee's "Wisdom of Age Project.” I would like to thank Dr. Lee for his dedication to challenging the stereotypes of the elderly and for providing them the opportunity to share their voice. In addition, I appreciate his guidance and the thought-provoking discussions regarding storytelling, journalism, and documentary work.
Working with Joan
Joan was a wonderful person to work with and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet her. Even more so, I appreciate her warm welcome and willingness to share her stories, her work, and her art of sewing. I was overwhelmed by her caring and compassionate nature. Her humbleness and gratitude reflects her true faith in the Lord. She is a woman that one cannot help but to be inspired by. I only hope that I was successful in capturing these attributes.
I fully enjoyed spending time with Joan and hearing her stories. In fact, it was rather difficult to find clips of my films where I was not laughing or blurting out amazed expressions. As I reviewed the footage, I could tell where I got distracted, forgetting that I was filming all together. This occurred quite often while I was appreciating Bob’s art collection; there is another quite comical portion where I left the camera on the kitchen table, recording several minutes of the window sill. It was also interesting to see my clumsiness caught on film, as I tripped repeatedly over my own feet. Most importantly though, this allowed me the opportunity to learn about what I personally need to work when conducting this form of work. The most challenging portion of this project was deciding what to cut from the films. Joan provided such interesting, emotional, and uplifting material; it was hard to accept that not everything could be included.
I can’t thank Joan enough for this wonderful experience.
After working a number of years as a Compliance Specialist, Pam Rondeau traded the serene Blue Ridge Mountains for the waterways of the Virginia Peninsula in order to attend Christopher Newport University. Pam considers her six sisters and three brothers as being her best friends and they play an important role in her life. Her favorite activities include hanging out with her family, camping, and anything having to do with animals or the outdoors.
Pam is an Honors student at CNU working on a double major in Political Science and English with a concentration in writing. Although Pam is most interested in pursuing a career in technical writing, she is quickly finding a niche writing community stories for a website she built for The Peninsula Community Foundation of Virginia and The Williamsburg Community Foundation.
Pam lives in Poquoson with her bulldog, Jolene. After graduating in spring 2014, she intends to remain in the Hampton Roads region until her boyfriend retires from the military. Ultimately, they plan to return to her boyfriend’s family farm in Catawba, Virginia.
"Joan Gilkison: Caring, Compassionate"
films by Pam Rondeau
Joan Gilkison and her children established the Gilkison Family Foundation in honor of her husband, Bob, who died in 2007. The Foundation provides financial support to a number of nonprofit organizations in various areas, ranging from medical services to fine arts. Joan’s dedication and compassion is not limited to her role as CEO of the Foundation. She extends her commitment to volunteer work, including service as a hospice chaplain.
"Bob's Art Collection" (4:39)
"The Best Job in the World" (5:10)
"Joan's Art" (9:42)
"Handling Life's Changes" (5:22)