John Gillespie was born on a Wisconsin family farm and went to the same one-room country school attended by his grandfather, father and oldest son. In second grade John took an interest in a third grader named Jan, and they have been married since 1957.
He founded a landscape company in his junior year of high school that is still in operation over five decades later. John got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, specializing in Landscape Architecture. He then served in the Army as a Captain in a combat engineer battalion.
In 1965 John and Jan founded the very successful non-profit Rawhide Boys Ranch. www.rawhide.org. The following year Bart and Cherry, of Green Bay Packer fame, joined them in development of the youth ranch.
The beautiful 500-acre campus of a dozen major buildings stretches for a mile along the Wolf River in Waupaca County. Rawhide, and its high school, Starr Academy, are completely debt free, and have over an 80% success rate with young men placed by Juvenile Courts. John and Jan have personally been foster parents of 351 teenagers that have lived with them and their two sons, usually 8 at a time, many staying 2 or 3 years.
They have assisted numerous churches around the Wisconsin and nation in developing youth programs and expanding their total church ministries. www.vision2serve.com
In July 2000 John’s passion for America led him to run for the U. S. Senate. Even with close to a million votes, he didn’t win the race, but America has won. John’s message of love of country, patriotism, and faith in God – the message of our Founding Fathers – is now reaching a new generation through 1776 American Dream!