), passed away on Oct. 4, 2002 in Gilroy, at the age of 97. Born
November 27, 1904 in Pittsburgh, Penn., Alice was the eldest of two
daughters born to German immigrant parents, Wilhelm Hinrich
Laarmann and Karolina Sophia Knoll.
Alice Luise Gillmann, known to her grandchildren as “Oma” (German for “grandmother”), passed away on Oct. 4, 2002 in Gilroy, at the age of 97. Born November 27, 1904 in Pittsburgh, Penn., Alice was the eldest of two daughters born to German immigrant parents, Wilhelm Hinrich Laarmann and Karolina Sophia Knoll.
The family emigrated to southern California when Alice was a young girl, living first in Boyle Heights and later building a home on Las Tunas Boulevard in San Gabriel. In Boyle Heights Wilhelm and his brother, John, started and ran the Laarmann Bros. Butter company, delivering eggs and butter to customers first by horse and wagon, and later by truck. At times Alice delivered eggs and butter for her father: sometimes in the saddlebags of a horse, and sometimes with a horse and buggy. The family also raised white New Zealand rabbits for meat and pelts.
Alice graduated from Lincoln High School in 1920. In 1925 she graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with her Bachelor of Arts degree. Following graduation she married Rudolf Gillmann, from Idar-Oberstein, Germany, and began a career teaching high school. Her teaching career spanned 43 years of service in Los Angeles, 30 years at John C. Fremont High School and 13 years at Garfield High School. She taught German, Spanish, history, and English, served as a guidance counselor, and was head of the language department at Fremont High. She was the faculty advisor to the very active German club. As a teacher and counselor Alice was highly respected and loved by her students and maintained long friendships with many of them over the years. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma.
In 1934 Rudy and Alice became parents with the birth of their daughter, Sharon (now Sharon Hoggan, a longtime resident of Gilroy). Parenting, teaching, and living in a multi-generational family kept Alice quite busy, yet she still squeezed in her passions in life: cooking, needlepoint and cross-stitch, reading, traveling the country and the world, learning foreign languages, attending Shakespeare plays, and family. Over her lifetime she wrote hundreds and hundreds of letters to family members and friends. Following World War II she personally assembled and mailed over a thousand care packages of clothing and food to German family members and friends left destitute by the war. Widowed in 1953, Alice did much of her traveling with Sharon, friends, or even alone. She traveled throughout Europe, Russia, Mexico, Central America, the United States and Canada.
Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren have benefited from her hobby of making 16-milimeter home movies-the precursor to today’s home videos. Her films not only preserved family memories, but also make an interesting documentary of life in the 1930s and 40s.
Alice and her sister, Lee Dupont (also widowed at a young age), lived as back-to-back neighbors for decades, and in their later years lived together. Their daughters grew up together virtually as sisters, and Alice and Lee treated each other’s grandchildren as their own.
Alice loved to cook. For many years her kitchen was overwhelmed in the weeks preceding Christmas as she baked klabin, a German sweet bread, to share with family and friends. Many of her dishes and recipes were great successes – even published – and others, such as the Christmas goose with mashed
potato stuffing, were wondrous failures. Her favorite expression in the kitchen was, “Don’t forget the garlic!” As she quietly passed, away the aroma of Gilroy’s famous garlic wafted through the open window of her room. The garlic had not been forgotten, nor will Oma be forgotten.
Alice is survived by her sister, Lee Dupont, her daughter, Sharon Hoggan (married to the late Dr. Robert O. Hoggan, DVM), by her six grandchildren (William Thomas Hoggan, Kenneth Brian Hoggan, Kathryn Hoggan Wylie, James Robert Hoggan, Patrick Steven Hoggan, and Susan Hoggan Barnes), by her 21 great-grandchildren, and by her niece, Jacqueline Whitfield.
Contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association.