A friend of a friend-John Gilman-Thomas Kenney-February 8

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for February 8, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

This has been a pretty brutal winter for anyone living in New England especially Maine. I have a brother named Thomas Kenney that lives in Maine and today he gets a respite from the winter chill of Maine. My brother travels today to Marco Island, FL to hang out with my sister and her husband for a couple of weeks. My brother’s occupation is a building contractor so getting a home-built in Maine’s weather can be trying. In addition to being a contractor he has been known to rock Karaoke Night at a place called the Sunset Grill in Belgrade Lake, ME.

He just finished up a big house and is ready for a mini-vacation with my sis.

Tom and I talked yesterday and he told me about the 30 inches of snow on the ground and continued nights with temps dipping below zero. He is more than ready to take in some of the warm Gulf of Mexico breezes and do a little fishing with my brother-in-law Vinny Murphy.

When we were talking my brother shared a story of a friend who passed away in August 2014 named John Gilman. My brother first met John ten years ago when he hired Tom to build him a “camp” near Belgrade Lakes, ME. For those that don’t know what a camp is to someone in New England I encourage you to listen to the comedian Bob Marley-he gives it a true Maine perspective and definition. The bottom line is Tom Kenney met John Gilman building his camp.

John Avery Gilman, 78, passed away in Hope Valley, Rhode Island on August 5, 2014. John was survived by his wife of 50 years, Diane (Ainsworth) Gilman, and three children; Susan Gardner-Gilman, Jeffrey Gilman and his fiancée Christine Brewster, and Donna Gilman Hoyle and her husband Kevin Hoyle. He was a proud and loving grandfather to five grandchildren, Derek and Steven Gardner, Sean and Ryan Gilman, and Quinn Hoyle.

My brother told me that John went from a customer to a friend and during that time he came to appreciate John’s service to the military, his love of the outdoors, his business savvy, and his love of a good prank or practical,joke.

John Gilman graduated from the Kentucky Military Institute in Lyndon Kentucky and soon after enlisted in the U.S Army. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division and later transferred to the 11th Airborne Division in Germany. Subsequent to his honorable discharge in 1957, he joined the U.S. Army Special Forces National Guard in Westerly, R.I. servicing in a variety of assignments.

Mr. Gilman was the founder and former CEO of Western Mass. Blasting Corp. He was elected to the R.I. House of Representatives in 1976 and served four terms serving his local constituents with honesty and integrity.

Mr. Gilman held a private pilot’s license and was an accomplished guitarist having continued his musical talents after his honorable discharge to play in local bands. He was an avid sportsman and traveled to Maine, Florida, Mexico and Canada to hunt and fish. He shared his love for hunting and fishing with friends, family and his grandchildren. John took my brother on a fishing trip to Mexico that my brother said he would never forget. He was a special man and friend.

Despite being a good man my brother said he could not resist a prank or practical joke. He also loved irony or karma. Even though the afternoon we talked it was 2 degrees in Maine my brother warmed up talking about John Gilman especially the pranks.

The Friend-THOMAS KENNEY-my brother-depicted in middle

The Friend of a Friend-JOHN GILMAN


Tom Kenney reliving some John Gilman stories

I have three quick stories about John that kinda bonded us together. The first was when we were building his house we were still framing it when freezing temperatures started to be a day-to-day thing in our part of Maine. We had put down lots of hay on the walkways/pathways at his camp to prevent us tracking mud inside. That hay is tied together with some green string and one of my crew must have not gotten it removed on one part of the pathway. It was about 10 degrees one morning and John comes out to the camp to check on our progress. Well that string had frozen into a perfect loop. John had suffered a leg injury as an Airborne Soldier. That injury caused him to drag one leg slightly when he walked. Well he comes up that hay covered walkway and catches his foot that is dragging in that frozen loop. He falls face down in the mud cussing me out telling me I snared him. We both had a good laugh.

John had his gall bladder removed and had a friend in Rhode Island that was going to go thru the same procedure. John goes to a chicken joint and orders up a chicken gizzard dinner. He places that chicken gizzard in a water filled mayonnaise jar. He gets his friends mailing address at the hospital and sends it to him with a note saying on behalf of the pathology staff at the hospital they want him to have his very own gall bladder as a keepsake. The note encouraged him to place in on his mantle or some other prominent place in his home. His friend and John talked about it two months later with his friend actually admitting he thought it was legit.

After I had got John’s camp finished he used to complain about a neighbor’s two big golden retrievers that would constantly come into his yard and do their business. He had designed his landscaping so everything was bark mulch. No grass anywhere just an entire yard of bark. Those dog turds in his bark mulch were really pissing John off. Karma and the irony of living in Maine were about to become a reality.

John was up at the camp when we had a really extended cold snap. John had a bunch of friends over on a Friday night for clam and corn bake. Well sometime Saturday morning the toilets in John’s camp had backed up because the lines from the septic tank to the drain field had frozen up. John not only need a septic tank repairman but he also had to really take a crap. He went out to the back of his storage building far removed from the house and took care of business. As he was walking back to the house he could see those two golden retrievers making a bee-line for the back of his storage building. Well those two golden-haired dogs had gotten into John’s business and must have really liked clams and corn. As John made his way back the house the two dogs came out from behind the building looking like two lions with their manes covered in the remnants of a recent kill.

As the dogs headed half way up from storage building to his house he heard his female neighbor scream at him “don’t you pet my dogs-don’t you pet my dogs”. John had no intention of doing that and the dogs went home to their owner never again to come in his yard. He loved the karma and irony of that story.

We all miss John Gilman.



  1. Jeff Neelon · · Reply

    Two thumbs up

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. tom kenney · · Reply

    great story brother, couldn’t tell it better myself, tk

    1. Glad you liked it. Would have liked to have met him.

  3. jeff gilman · · Reply

    My dad sure was a wicked pissah!

    1. I would have loved to have met him. My brother held him in high esteem.

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