William J. Gillett

Page 609-610 - William J. Gillett has been a member of the Grand Rapids bar since 1900 and has achieved both success and prestige in the work of his profession. He is one of the well fortified attorneys and counselors at the bar of his native state and is a scion of the third generation of the Gillett family in Michigan, to which state his paternal grandparents came in 1845, their home having been established in Kent county, where they remained until 1859, when they became pioneer settlers in Ottawa county, the remainder of their lives having been passed in Michigan. William J. Gillett was born on his fatherís farm near Herrington, Ottawa county, Michigan, June 21, 1876, and is a son of William Hull and Emma (Hatch) Gillett, the former of whom was born in England and the latter in the state of New York. William Gillett, Sr., was an infant at the time of his parentsí coming to the United States, and was but six months old when the family arrived in Grand Rapids. His early education was received in the pioneer schools of Kent county, and he was a lad of about fourteen years at the time of the family removal to Ottawa county, where he was reared to adult age, under the conditions marking the pioneer period in the history of that section of the state. As a youth of about eighteen years he there purchased a farm near Herrington and he long continued as one of the substantial farmers and influential citizens of his community in Ottawa county. The discipline of the home farm and of the district school of the neighborhood compassed the boyhood and youth of William J. Gillett, and his public school studies were supplemented by his attending school at Berlin, Michigan, besides which he was for a time a student in the schools of Grand Rapids. In preparation for the profession that his ambition prompted him to adopt, he entered the law department of the University of Michigan. In this department he was graduated as a member of the class of 1899, and his reception of the degree of Bachelor of Laws was followed by his admission to the bar of his native state. Through his own efforts he largely defrayed the expenses of his university course, he having accomplished this by his successful service as a teacher in the public schools. As a representative of the pedagogic profession he first taught in a district school and received for his services twenty-five dollars a month. He proved his value and was finally able to command a salary of forty-five dollars a month. In 1900 Mr. Gillett came to Grand Rapids, and during the ensuing ten years he was here retained as general counsel for the Commercial Credit Company. He then became associated with R. J. Cleland in the general practice of law, with offices in the Houseman building, and since 1915 he has been successfully established in independent practice, with offices in the Michigan Trust building. He has built up a substantial law business of general order, and this fact offers the best voucher for his professional ability and for the estimate placed upon him in his home city and county. Mr. Gillett married Miss Marie Rypens, who was born in Belgium, a daughter of Francis Rypens, and who was twelve years old when her parents came to the United States and established their residence in Michigan. Mr. and Mrs. Gillett have three fine sons: William, Francis and Clarence.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 30 December 2002