Harley stands with longtime friend Scott Osborne (l) and son Doug Gilmore.

Update: On Saturday, December 7, 2019, Harley Cooper Gilmore, loving father, grandfather, great grandfather and longtime licensed land surveyor, passed away at the age of 85 due to complications from a sudden stroke.

This story was published in March 2013 and stands true.

By Derek Maul

Lots of people have a vague idea of their “Bucket List.” You know, that inventory of special goals, accomplishments, or places to visit.

Harley Gilmore has his written down, and color-coded; 42 items, to be exact. Not only that, but he’s serious.

“It’s a realistic list,” Gilmore said. “I’m endeavoring to complete it before I get to 100.”

The list is kind of a microcosm of the man. Bottom line, Harley Gilmore enjoys the adventure of living. Surveyor, cook, columnist, author, grandfather, teacher, businessman, historian, theologian, expert witness; to his mind it’s not so much “why?” as it is “why not?”

Born in Rutland, Vermont in 1934, Gilmore moved to Florida at age five and, “Brought my parents along with me.” The family eventually settled in Hudson.

He joined the Air Force as an aviation cadet but got airsick, then finished his two-year stint with the Air Police in Kentucky, where he stayed on as a druggist’s assistant before enrolling in the University of Florida.

“I’d worked on a survey crew since high school,” Gilmore said. “So I earned my Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from University of Florida in 1962 and returned home to work as a surveyor.”

The development around New Port Richey kept Gilmore busy until he transferred to Land O’ Lakes. He launched his own firm, American Engineering Incorporated.

“I ran that until it sold,” he said. “20 years ago I started doing education seminars and working as an adjunct professor at Pasco-Hernando Community College.”

Gilmore developed PDH-Pro LLC (Professional Development Hours) with his son, Doug. The business offers continued education credits in a variety of disciplines, but mostly surveying.

“Doug’s a computer genius,” he said. “I write the books.”

Gilmore still does hands-on surveying related to court cases, where he is frequently called as an expert witness.

“Surveying has got to be highly specialized, but the basic idea hasn’t changed in 60-plus years,” he said. “It’s about locating descriptive and legal locations of land above, on, and below the surface of the Earth. Everything else builds on that.”

Six items on Gilmore’s bucket list are cookbooks he plans to write. That’s no surprise for readers of the “Harley’s Home Cooking” column that has run in the Osprey Observer over ten years.

“I have over 2,000 cookbooks,” he said. “And I’ve taken over 300 hours of cooking classes. I don’t have a specialty; truth is I love to experiment.”

Retirement, it would appear, is not exactly imminent. “I plan to retire when I’m 100,” he quipped, “I’m going to have my son fire me so I can collect unemployment!”

Gilmore insists he’s having a great time, so why stop working? “I have fun doing everything that I do,” he said. “That’s what gets me up in the morning.”

With four grandchildren (now six grandchildren and two great-grandsons) and a life full with stories yet to tell, Gilmore looks to be busy at least through the three-digit milestone.

In lieu of flowers, a Land Surveying Scholarship is being established, gofundme.com/f/harley-c-gilmore-surveying-scholarship


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Derek Maul
Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at www.derekmaul.wordpress.com.