Reflections Part 10: Lots of Activity at the Gilling House


by Dana Mandel



As I walk across the street most mornings to my office, after checking for passing manure spreaders before crossing, I am often pleasantly surprised at the number of cars assembled in the parking area.  When the structure’s builder and only other resident, Clarence Gilling, lived here, I would often see him mowing his lawn at the age of 100 or sitting under the red maple tree reading the daily newspaper.  The building has now doubled in size, has a large ramp leading to the main entrance, has a vastly enlarged paved parking area, and sees more visitors in a day than Clarence had in a month.

Clarence was born in 1899 just south of Auburn and lived until 2002. Clarence had a hard earned and well deserved reputation as an honest businessman, a skilled craftsman, and a gentleman. He passed at the ripe old age of 103 and achieved his long term goal of living in three different centuries.  He constructed his home in 1944 at a cost of approximately $4,500 and lived here with his wife, Lu, for nearly 60 years.  The original receipt hangs on the reception area wall.  I decided to name the building The Gilling House in his memory, and also to save time when providing directions to our patients.  Everyone knew where Clarence Gilling lived.

Clarence would sit in his den and read or watch television with a full view of my home from his easy chair.  It was a comfort to know that he carefully watched my children wait for the bus and get dropped off at the end of each day.  He was a true gentleman and kept his mind and body active.  The house was maintained conscientiously, the snow was cleared immediately, and the lawn was mowed and trimmed expertly.  If I was remiss in getting my chores done at my home, he would come over with his tractor and “take care of business” without a word.  This did create some embarrassment for me, as my neighbors would want to know why I had a 100 year old man doing my chores.

Clarence loved to visit with people and he adored children.  We shared many hours together and enjoyed touring the country side in a “motor car.”  As I survey the present activity at the office, I think he would be very pleased to see all that his humble home has become.  In addition to our outpatient physical therapy services, we now offer fitness training and wellness coaching services with Amy Rebera.  Dr. Mia Thomas and Dr. Margaret Vence provide outpatient physical treatments at the office.  Dr. Thomas has recently become a certified yoga instructor and is offering yoga classes on a weekly basis.  Through a partnership with the Cayuga County Community Health Network, we are offering weekly classes on various topics related to chronic disease self-management.  Our management and office support staff are also housed in this office.  We perform employment interviews with potential therapists, host luncheons, and conduct weekly staff meetings in our conference room.  There are now days that we run out of parking spaces and need to park on adjacent grassy areas.

When I had finished the original renovations on Clarence’s house and set up my computer in the basement in 2002, I had no idea of how I would ever utilize all this space.  After recently doubling the size of the building, we are now faced with the prospect of reaching full capacity again.  I’m sure Clarence is smiling down on us.