Gwendolyn Bilslend

Gwendolyn Diane Bilslend, age 63, died February 20, 2019, in Omaha, following a courageous journey with cancer. She was born in Lincoln on July 6, 1955, and was a long-time resident of Shelton. A Celebration Of Life will be held Saturday, July 6, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Trademark Event Center in Shelton, located at 110 First Street. A specific tribute program will be held from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. and then in the following hours a continued sharing of time and memories. In lieu of flowers, a memorial (c/o Joy Speidell) has been established to contribute to organizations Gwen held dear to her heart. Gwen was born in Lincoln and spent much of her childhood moving from place to place with her family of seven. While she credited those moves as profoundly character forming, she was fiercely loyal to Shelton as her hometown. Gwen dearly loved her community and that love will endure forever. Gwen graduated in 1973 from Shelton High School; in 1976 from the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK); and while a mother and teacher and coach — she graduated in 1989 from UNK with her master’s degree. She married Ward Bilslend in 1974 and together they raised two sons, Christopher and Dallas. Gwen was a prolific track star at the high school, AAU and collegiate levels. She competed in field and track events — most notably the long jump, the 100, the 200, hurdles, and speed relays. In high school, she earned all class first place at state in the long jump, and also competed nationally earning fourth at the AAU national meet. At UNK she earned All American status in 1975 and 1976; the ’75 honors coming only months after giving birth to her first child, Christopher. In 1975, she also competed on a 4x100 relay team that narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics. Gwen enjoyed creative expression through music and art. She skillfully and expressively played the trumpet and guitar. She loved to draw many types of pictures and illustrations using many different types of mediums. Gwen mastered producing stained glass — enjoying the entire process from the selection of various interesting glass pieces, imagining the ideas of color and form, to putting the final touches on beautiful works of stained glass. Additional to creating music and art – Gwen enjoyed listening to music and especially enjoyed music by Cat Stevens, Neil Young, Pink!, and Crosby Stills and Nash. She was a gifted and dedicated teacher and coach — and loved to inspire in her students the drive to reach their potential, no matter their ability. Gwen was a survivor — triumphing over acute leukemia in 1992; and breast cancer in 2013. Following an early retirement from teaching and coaching (track, volleyball and basketball), she still spent her most cherished time interacting with and impacting children; most recently, finding inordinate joy in her relationship with her granddaughter, Teagan Ray Bilslend. Gwen was an amazingly loyal and caring friend, teacher, coach, daughter, sister, aunt, and mother. She was most proud of her two sons. The memory of Gwennie- Pennie will always be carried in the hearts of her family and friends. She is survived by her son, Christopher Bilslend, and granddaughter Teagan Bilslend; mother, Joy Speidell; siblings, Jeff Gould, Greg Gould, Jennifer Gould, and Harvey Gould; and nieces and nephews, Alex Gould and Haley Gould (Greg), and Serge Gould and Audrey Gould (Jeff). She is preceded in death by her youngest son, Dallas Bilslend, and her father, Delbert Gould; and by her maternal grandparents Richard and Fordyce Speidell, and paternal grandparents Damon and Esther Gould.

The Shelton Clipper

P.O. Box 640
Shelton, NE 68876