Joseph Millard Gulledge was born October 24, 1946 to Roy Gulledge and Thelma Katherine Garbett in Winnfield, Louisiana. He was married to Mary Lou Wilson in 1974, and together they had a daughter, Rebecca Gulledge, born in 1977.
Sometime in the 1980’s, Millard became a convinced Friend, and joined New Orleans Monthly Meeting. After corresponding with Jan and Dan Kjerne, Millard and his family moved to Portland in 1987. His request for transfer of membership to Multnomah Meeting was approved in 1988. Meeting member Thatcher Robinson was an advocate for Millard, and Millard worked for many years at Nature’s (now Whole Foods) grocery store, when it was located on NE 24th Ave. and Fremont Streets. In later years, Millard was a cheerful vendor for the local publication Street Roots.
Millard had a big spirit, and sought guidance from God in his life’s purpose. He helped us know God, both through his vocal ministry – often delivered in a joyous, exuberant spirit – and through giving opportunities to listen, assist, and serve, whether taking him to appointments, providing him with rides to Meeting or work, or helping him deal with emotional and economic challenges.
In a personal statement from 1995 that points to his affinity for both Quakerism and Judaism, Millard wrote,
I am a monotheist. I believe in only one God, a God of compassion, mercy and justice. I believe that there is a divine spark within mankind. I believe that the soul searches for its creator, i.e., God. Whatever you find hurtful to you do not do to your neighbor (friend). I believe that “still small voice” speaks to us still. It seems to me that all of mankind’s searchers are one in the same: A desire of the soul to find its Creator.
In the early 2000’s, Millard became increasingly interested in the Jewish faith. He studied Torah and attended morning services regularly at Congregation Neveh Shalom in Southwest Portland. Eventually, he became a member of Neveh Shalom, while still maintaining his membership in Multnomah Meeting. A core group at Neveh Shalom became Millard’s staunch advocates, friends and primary support as his health worsened over the years.
In his last year, Millard suffered with a foot infection from diabetes, and needed to move into assisted living. His legal guardian, a member of Neveh Shalom, secured his placement in a memory care unit close to the synagogue and visited with him regularly until his passing on December 13, 2021.
Millard was accompanied in his passage from this world to whatever lies beyond with the care and prayers of Congregation Neveh Shalom. Per Millard’s wishes, an Orthodox Jewish funeral was held on December 16, 2021, and he is buried at Ahavai Shalom cemetery, 9323 SW 1st Avenue, Portland 97219.
Millard is survived by his brother and sister-in-law Mike and Pat Gulledge, of Monroe, Louisiana; his niece, Cassie Naron, of Butler, Pennsylvania; and his daughter, Rebecca Gulledge, of Portland, Oregon.