Travel Nav 06

Gerald C. Rilling

February 16, 1944 ~ January 20, 2020 (age 75)


What an amazing life was lived by Gerald Rilling. Born and raised in Loves Park to Bernice and Roy Rilling. Gerald’s older brother, Roger, was his hero! He graduated from the Harlem  Schools and Beloit College. Rita Haelman was Gerald's partner for 25 years.
Gerald traveled to Kenya and taught chemistry and other sciences to Swahili speaking high school boys.
He met and worked with Louis and Mary Leakey at Olduvai Gorge  in Tanzania where early man was discovered.
Jane Goodall and Gerald worked well together at Gombe National Park. The chimps loved playing with Gerald and eagerly awaited their bananas from him.
Gerald was the poisonous snake catcher on his safaris and at the lodges. His knowledge of animals and spotting techniques made him a successful tour guide.
The Nairobi Museum often asked him to find skeletons of animals and snakes, which he then reassembled.  Gerald also discovered several new species of moths. 
Gerald’s interest in WWI East Africa made him an expert on the subject. He collected and sold out of print books on the subject and on E Africa in general. He reprinted two books on WWI E Africa and translated one to English from German. His 2000 title bibliography is going to be published by the World War I  Society in London.  
After fifteen to twenty years in Africa Gerald returned and ran a small machine shop, a book business and cut beautiful opal gem stones for jewelry stores.
BUT the most amazing thing  is he did it all on crutches.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Gerald C. Rilling, please visit our floral store.


At his request, no visitation or services will be held


Natural Land Institute of Rockford
320 So 3rd. Street, Rockford IL 61102

Jane Goodall Institute
1595 Spring Hill Rd., Vienna VA 22182

International Crane Foundation
P.O. Box 447, Baraboo WI 53913

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