Alvin E. Gilless, 82, a longtime civic and community leader, departed this life Sept. 17, 2023.
A native of Memphis, Gilless was a real estate developer, political operative, former service station owner, and charter member of several civic organizations such as the Southaven Jaycees and Southaven Rotary Club. He was also owner and operator of Lift UR Spirits, a package store in Senatobia.
Prominent in Republican Party circles, he was a friend to several U.S. Presidents, Mississippi governors and lieutenant governors, state lawmakers and citizens of Southaven, DeSoto and Tate counties.
A graduate of Whitehaven High School, he attended Memphis State University and joined the Air Force Reserve.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Alton Clay Gilless and Clara Mabel Heldenbran, A.C. Gilless, Jr., former Sheriff of Shelby County, and his sister Maryann Ford.
Survivors include his wife, Gloria, the love of his life for 35 years; son Ed Gilless, daughters Kim Magness, and Shannon Magness; and he was “Papa G” to grandson Logan Woolfolk (Julie) with whom he has apprenticed and mentored since a young age; several nieces, nephews and cousins.
He developed a lifelong passion for politics from a young age. When he was eight years old, he went with his father to work for “The Crump Machine” and Memphis mayoral candidate Ed Crump.
Gilless had been instrumental in numerous political campaigns across North Mississippi and state elections.
Gilless first came to DeSoto County in 1964, set up a service station with his father and a bait shop at the corner of Interstate 55 and Stateline Road. He joined the business while a senior at Memphis State University. Gilless later became a real estate developer. A patriot in many respects, Gilless served his country in the Air Force Reserve for more than six years.
His civic commitments and devotion to the public good was shown through his support of many causes and nonprofit organizations benefitting the community, state, nation and world. Gilless established the Al Gilless Southaven Rotary Club Scholarship through a matching gift from the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi.
Al and Gloria Gilless were also founding partners of the Historic DeSoto Foundation/DeSoto County Museum in 2003.
Among his many activities and causes he supported, he was a major contributor for the Make-A-Wish Foundation along with PGA golfer John Daly, and played international host to a visiting group of Russian citizens to the Mid-South in 2001.
Gilless will be laid to rest in a private funeral service with Twin Oaks Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
To honor his memory and legacy, a public “Reflection of Life” service is set for Thursday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Go Center on the Colonial Hills Church campus at 7701 U.S. Highway 51 North in Southaven.
Gilless had been a past congregant of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Southaven and had begun regularly attending New Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Horn Lake.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that gifts be made to charities of your choice or donate to the Al Gilless Rotary Scholarship Endowment: mail to The
Community Foundation, 315 Losher Street, Suite 100, Hernando, MS 38632. The scholarship will help graduates of Horn Lake High School, Southaven High School and Northpoint Christian School; in addition, donations may be made to the DeSoto County Museum.