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He changed from forest ranger to Naval officer.

posted Dec 18, 2015, 4:07 PM by Joyce Evans   [ updated Dec 18, 2015, 4:08 PM ]
You might know PSAR REALTOR® member Dave Gillingham as chairman of PSAR’s Professional Standard Committee, which has members from both PSAR and the North San Diego County Association of REALTORS®. The Professional Standards Committee hears matters of alleged ethical misconduct by association members and provides arbitration as requested. Dave has served as the committee’s chair since 2014. He also served for 10 years (2003-2013) as a C.A.R. (California Association of REALTORS®) Director. The resident of Coronado has been the owner-broker of Coronado Island Realty for the past 20 years.
But did you know that Dave restores old automobiles? Over the years, he has completed about 20 restorations, many of them the iconic Volkswagen vans (also called a bus or a hippy van). He also has sweated over-and-under Alfa Romeos, Mercedes Benz sedans and is currently working on a 1963 Chevrolet Suburban. “It can be a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun,” said Dave.
Dave’s father was a Navy doctor, one of the first assigned to a submarine. Dave’s family moved to Coronado in 1966. Later, the family moved to La Mesa and Dave graduated from Helix High School (class of 1971). “In our senior year, 12 friends and I were disruptive in English class and the teacher made us sit in another part of the auditorium for nearly the entire school year,” recalled Dave. “One by one, my friends dropped the class until I was the only one left. Today, I am friends with some of those guys. The class was brutal but I certainly learned how to write. In college, I even wrote term papers for friends.”
In 1975, Dave earned a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of California at Riverside. “I was thinking about being a forest ranger,” said Dave. After college, Dave decided to join the U.S. Navy because, “I’m a patriotic guy and I wanted to serve my country and see the world.”
With his college degree in hand, he was accepted to Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. A 23-year career followed, including active duty from 1975 to 1986 and Naval Reserves until 1998.  As a Chief Engineer in the Navy, he spent time on three ships, including two frigates and an LST (landing ship tank). He oversaw a staff of around 120 engineers. “I was responsible for everything mechanical from generators to turbines, both steam and diesel,” said Dave.
Dave later earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California, where he met his wife Sue. They have been married since February 1981.
In September 1983, while stationed on the USS Meyerkord (FF-1058) frigate, Dave was part of a search for wreckage of Korean Airlines flight 007 that veered off course and flew into Russian airspace where it was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet. The South Korean jetliner plummeted into the Sea of Japan killing all 269 people on board.
“It was the first time I had seen it snow while at sea,” said Dave. “Gorbachev also sent his ships to search for wreckage. I can’t tell you if we found anything, but several times one of the Soviet ships pulled-up next to our ship only 10-to-15 feet away. Then their sailors wearing only gym shorts played volleyball on their flight deck just to show us how tough they were. It was impressive. One time we saw this tall red-headed woman slug a Soviet officer on the bridge wing of a frigate. It was a strange time for sure.”
Dave retired as a commander. “I left active duty Navy after being asked to move to the Philippines, which wasn’t going to work with our family at the time,” he said.
While still in the Navy, Dave began working in real estate, including investing in fixer-uppers. He became a full-time real estate agent in 1994. Today, wife Sue is executive director of the Coronado Chamber of Commerce. Son Andy works at a restaurant. Daughter Kate also works with Dave as a full-time REALTOR®. Kate began working in her dad’s real estate office at age 14. Earlier this year, Kate was selected for 2015 “30 Under 30” recognition from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Kate, 27, was one of 500 applicants for this year’s award.
“I support PSAR because integrity, honest and high ethical standards are valued and enforced,” said Dave. “The organization is transparent, the members are friendly and the staff is competent and professional.”