Daniel “Dan” Gilchrist IV

by Lynn McMillen
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In Remembrance of Daniel “Dan” Gilchrist IV

Daniel “Dan” Gilchrist IV died peacefully at home on June 9, 2024, at the age of 83. He was born on May 2, 1941, in Decatur, Alabama, to parents Martha Ann Fowler Gilchrist and Daniel “Dan” Gilchrist III. He grew up in Courtland, Alabama, having many adventures with dear friends on the family farm and came to have a deep abiding connection to the land and the farm – one of the great loves of his life.

In 1957, at age 16, he left Courtland for Chattanooga where he spent his high school years at McCallie School for boys. While there, on a weekend trip home for a dance, Dan was first introduced to Scott Patterson, Walter Murphy, and Foster Barnwell. They, along with Terry Smith who was also at McCallie School (all from the Florence, Alabama area), became fast friends and remained so for the rest of Dan’s life.

After completing high school, Dan went to Southwestern at Memphis where he joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, studied German, served as the editor of the college yearbook, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in German in 1963. It was during his time at Southwestern that he first traveled abroad, spending time in Austria studying German, and developing what became another of his great loves – traveling and planning trips.

After college, Dan went Ole Miss to continue his German studies and teach German to undergraduate students. It was here that he met Carolyn Bickerstaff, who was doing post-graduate study in French. They were introduced in August 1963, had their first date in December, and she became his wife eight months later in August 1964. Dan said many times in his last months that she was the “greatest love of his life.” They would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in August of this year.

After marrying in Oxford, Dan and Carolyn moved to San Antonio, Texas, for Dan to begin training with the United States Air Force. His time in the Air Force was cut short by an accident, and he moved back to Courtland to join his father for what would be a 17-year-long career in farming. He farmed primarily cotton and soybeans and also started a Massey-Ferguson tractor supply company which he ran for the entirety of his farm career. During that time Dan and Carolyn welcomed into their family their three children, Katie, Daniel, and Lillian.

Around 1980, Dan began to feel the Lord’s call to go into ministry. He resisted for a time, but finally realized that “resistance is futile” (he was a big Star Trek fan) and moved the family to Jackson, Mississippi so he could attend Reformed Theological Seminary. He served on the mission field in Quito, Ecuador for the summer of 1983, and years later in Prague, Czechoslovakia, when he traveled there with his devoted friend and elder in the church, Billy Sudduth. After completing seminary in 1984, he was called to preach at the Carthage Presbyterian Church where he served as pastor for 22 years, until his retirement in 2006. Dan was a gifted businessman, serving on the Board for The Carthage Bank for many years, and after his retirement establishing a real estate rental company together with his daughter Lillian and her husband David Thomas.

Dan was an avid traveler – both in the United States and abroad. He loved planning trips, and he was good at it. During his years in Carthage, he and Carolyn began traveling the world. He named his “venture” European Adventures Ltd., and took his children and Carthage friends on trips to England, Scotland, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It was on an ill-fated detour into Italy that Dan, known to all as an overly cautious (and slow) driver, got his first and maybe only speeding ticket of his life. We all still laugh. He and Carolyn later led student trips with high schoolers from Carthage and Louisville to many of the same locations. Dan’s children all credit him with instilling in them a life-long interest in travel.

Dan loved airplanes and flying. He loved model trains. He loved boats and the Alabama gulf coast and fishing with his buddies. He loved the Tennessee River and spent much time as a young man exploring it in his first boat, Pyewacket. He loved his Scottish ancestry and wore with pride his MacLachlan tartan kilt. Most of all, he loved his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we are thankful to know that he is now in Heaven, freed from the struggles of life in this broken world.

Dan is survived by his wife, Carolyn, his three children, Kathryn “Katie” Gilchrist (Madison, Ms.), Daniel Gilchrist V (Blair) (Chantilly, Va.), and Lillian Gilchrist Thomas (David) (Carthage, Ms.), five amazing grandchildren, James and Joshua Gilchrist and Sara, Meg, and John David Thomas, his five spoiled cats (Oliver, Marty, Ming, Oreo, and Mex), his devoted German Shepherd (Addy), and many dear friends.

Visitation will be held Tuesday, June 11, from 5:30 pm until 7:30 pm. A memorial service will be held Wednesday morning, June 12, at 11:00 a.m., preceded by visitation at 10 a.m. All services will be at the Carthage Presbyterian Church. A graveside service will be held in Courtland, Alabama on Thursday at 11:00 a.m.

Pallbearers are Larwin Atkison, Jimmy Bell, Mark Dye, Mike Ellis, Ed Girling, James Gilchrist, Josh Gilchrist, James E. Smith, Jr., and John David Thomas. Honorary pallbearers are Foster Barnwell, Pat Hardage, Scott Patterson, Terry Smith, and John Sudduth. The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Ligonier Ministries or the Carthage Presbyterian Church.

Arrangements are being handled by the Wilcox Funeral Home in Carthage.

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