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Marco Gilliam

Obituary for Marco Gilliam

March 17, 1937 - July 3, 2018
Thibodaux, Louisiana | Age 81

Obituary

Marco Louis Patrick Gilliam, 81, a native of San Antonio, Texas and resident of Thibodaux, Louisiana passed away on July 3, 2018. Marco was the son of Neville Francis and Elouise Gerbic Gilliam born on St. Patrick's Day in 1937. Marco was a 1955 honors graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio, a 1959 graduate of Trinity University and a veteran of the United States Army. It was at Jefferson High School where he learned to speak Spanish.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Anna Matherne Gilliam, whom he married on 31 May 1980 in San Antonio, Texas.

While studying English at Trinity University, he started a lifelong profession in the media. He worked his way through college as a reporter for the San Antonio Light working the crime beat. He went on to have a radio show on KBUC in San Antonio with a young Blanquita Cullum who is now a national political commentator. And amidst going to school full time, working full time, he also squeezed in ROTC.

He had a long and distinguished career in Public Relations. After graduation from Trinity, he went into the Army for six years and served as a public information officer. After being discharged he returned to reporting for the Houston Chronicle. In 1964, he accepted a position with AT&T as the managing editor of the company magazine based out of New York City. AT&T took him from NYC to St. Louis and finally back home, where he served as the company's spokesperson.

Marco became a well know media relations spokesman and a true professional of his craft. He was a highly regarded when it came to dealing with news reporters, columnists and editors and had a reputation for honesty and responsiveness, always meeting short deadlines to meet reporters' needs.

"Everyone in the media knew who he was and could depend on him for quick answers. There wasn't a week that went by he wasn't seen on TV, heard on radio or quoted in the newspaper. He was honest, fair, punctual and straightforward," recalled Norman D. Baxter, retired senior executive and close colleague of Gilliam's throughout their careers with the company.

Eddie Hughes, retired Division Manager in the San Antonio office worked closely with Gilliam who was the face of the company on air and in print.

"When San Antonio Express-News columnist Paul Thompson called when Marco was on vacation, I offered to help. He asked if I worked for Marco. When I explained we worked together and I was actually his boss, there was a long pause. "

"You mean Marco has a boss? Thompson asked, expressing surprise. He went on to say, I thought Marco was the Big Enchilada."

In 1978 he started dating Anna Matherne and on Memorial Day 1980 (31 May), he married her. There is no doubt of their love for one another. Marco told everyone he was blessed when he met Anna, because he finally met his soul mate.

After retirement from Bell, he and Anna were very active in the local Republican Party. Anna was a member of one of the local Republican Women's Clubs. He was an active precinct chairman; chaired various committees including resolutions; they attended numerous Texas State Republican Conventions; and he and Anna were elected as delegates to three National Conventions. He was an avid writer, commentator and conservative activist. For a number of years, he wrote his commentaries under the moniker of "Politics and Peppers."

Marco and Anna loved to travel cross the Great State of Texas together, especially Salado, Texas and loved to go on cruises. He enjoyed telling stories to his nieces and nephews, along with a good glass of whiskey, and a Macanudo Cigar. According to his good political ally and friend, Joe Leatherwood, "One of my favorite things to do was sit listen to the beauty of Vivaldi, with Marco, while sipping on a cognac and enjoying a fine cigar. While Vivaldi filled the room with a symphony of sounds, Marco filled it with his insights, stories, laughter and friendship. We were political allies and fellow travelers I will miss those conversations and my good friend. One of the world's most interesting men - I lift my glass to toast my friend, 'Stay thirsty my friend... we will all miss him.' I will light up a Macanudo in his memory."

Marco's stories are legendary and endless. They included interviewing Elvis Presley after one of his concerts with girls banging on the door. Marco said Elvis was a kind southern man. He interviewed Marilyn Monroe, who he said, "She was a hell of a lot smarter than she let people believe." While a staunch Republican and Goldwater conservative, he was the personal guest of LBJ at his ranch. He went dancing at Studio 54 when he lived in New York City. He took photographs off the top of the first tower of the World Trade Center, looking down on the construction of the second tower. He rode horse back at a Willie Nelson 4th of July picnic. He saw the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series in 1967. Marco lived life.

As his good friend Norm Baxter said, "With the possible exception of Will Rogers, Marco Gilliam may have been the most unforgettable character of the past century. He knew more stories than Henny Youngman and told them in two languages. He was an untamed conservative and in his fiery columns he took no prisoners. The anecdotes about Marco will be around for years. If you had the pleasure of knowing Marco you were blessed."

Marco's life-long friend, Blanquita Cullum, summed him up as follows, "Marco you were a giant of a man--in courage, compassion, friendship, generosity and real commitment to your community. You made a difference. All of us are better for having known you as a friend. Your wonderful sense of humor and kindness will be missed. I have always admired your devotion to your family -- your darling daughter Loralei. God grant you peace dear friend--you were one in a million--that we were blessed to know. Again--you will be missed but your good works and memories will carry on. Love you my friend."

In 2017, Marco moved to Thibodaux, Louisiana to be with his daughter Loralei and he didn't miss a step in building a whole new circle of friends and family. He developed new favorite restaurants... Fremins! New drinking buddies...Blake! He got to know all of his nieces and nephews as adults and touched the lives of a new generation of great nieces and nephews to share knock-knock jokes with and history lessons.

Marco was a fascinating man. He enjoyed family, good food, a Macanudo cigar and a dirty martini. If we can learn anything from him, is to take that vacation, take that second chance on love, try something new, always order the oysters, and always make sure to LIVE the life you've been given.

A memorial visitation was held in his honor with a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, July 11, at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Thibodaux.

Marco is survived by his daughter, Loralei Gilliam; bothers-in-law, Michael Matherne, Daniel Matherne and his wife, Louella, Guy Matherne Jr., and Ronnie Matherne and his wife, Lelia; sisters-in-law, Margaret Murphee and husband, Paul; Catherine Gorrell and husband, Greg. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Landry's Funeral Home Inc. was in charge of arrangements.

A memorial service will be held by his San Antonio friends to honor the life of Marco Gilliam at Porter Loring Mortuary on McCullough on Saturday, Aug. 4 at 11 a.m.

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Porter Loring Mortuary

1101 McCullough Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78212
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