Gordon Fraser Lilly died April 1, 2019 in Virginia Beach, VA. He was born April 27, 1927 in Wimbledon, England, the son of Harold Norman Lilly and Kathleen Mary Lilly, nee Fraser. From the ages of 8 to 13, he attended the Christ Church Cathedral Choir School and was a chorister in Oxford Cathedral rising to be head chorister and soloist. From ages 14-18, he attended St. John’s School Leatherhead, an independent boarding school, where he continued his singing career and upon graduation in 1945 won a choral scholarship to Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge University. However, he chose to take a State Scholarship to Manchester University instead. Most of his life he kept his remarkably beautiful baritone voice and always his great love of music. He studied metallurgy at Manchester, graduating in 1949 with an honors degree in metallurgical engineering. After three years of working the metallurgical research in England and Scotland (where he discovered his love of rock climbing), he emigrated to Canada and a few years later to the USA. He lived in Pittsburgh, PA where he continued to do research in the steel industry. He acquired two masters’ degrees in engineering and mathematics, then changed careers to computing, developing successful software and managing computer installations and finally worked as a systems engineering contractor for the federal government.
Shortly after moving to Pittsburgh, he married Barbara Greenfeld of New York City. Their daughter Elizabeth Fraser Lilly was born in 1964 and is now living in Felton, CA. He later married Jean Morrison Ruffin of Washington, D.C.
Early on he became a lifelong outdoorsman, engaging in hiking, rock climbing, skiing, sailing, and scuba diving. As a young man he made several first ascents in the Cornish Sea Cliffs with his climbing partner Martin Ridges, which are well recorded. He served the National Ski Patrol in Colorado as a volunteer for 25 years. In his retirement he completed a 300-mile trek in Nepal, acted as a ski guide for many years and was a full-time ski instructor for two seasons at the Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado. He was certified as a Master Driver at the age of 76. Also, in his retirement he obtained an Associate of Arts degree majoring in Spanish and completed total immersion language courses in Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, and Ecuador.
He was a supportive father and brother and loving husband and a loyal and devoted friend to many. He will greatly be missed by his family and friends who enjoyed his enthusiasm, excellent mind and wit (he loved to tell stories and jokes), and perhaps even his strong opinions which he fiercely defended. He believed in being fully himself. However, underneath, he was truly kind-hearted and, as many have said, he was always so interesting.
He was predeceased by his brother Keith Lilly. He is survived by his second wife Jean Ruffin Lilly, his daughter Elizabeth Lilly, his sister Anne Fleeman of Sutton Coldfeld, England, and many devoted nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to:
Colorado Trail Foundation, 710 10th St., Room 210, Golden, CO 80401
Ocean Park Volunteer Rescue Squad
Union of Concerned Scientists