was born in 1891 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1913
from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in languages. In
1915, he graduated from Yale University with the degree Master of
Forestry. Besides having a fine command of the English language, he
was articulate in Spanish and French, and conversant in German.
graduating from Yale, Gill went to work for the U.S. Forest Service
as a forest ranger in Fort Collins, Colorado. During World War I,
he was a pilot and instructor in the Army Air Service. After his WWI
service he returned to the Forest Service as forest supervisor of
the Black Hills National Forest at Deadwood, South Dakota.
he was transferred to Washington, D.C. where for the next three
years he was in charge of information for the Branch of Public
Relations. In this position he was in charge of educational
activities, including relations with newspapers; editing and writing
magazine articles; writing and directing motion pictures; and
preparing speeches and articles for the chief forester.
January of 1925, the American Forestry Association, Washington, D.C.
appointed him associate editor of American Forests and Forest
Life. A year later he became executive director and foresters of
the Charles Lathrop Pack Forestry Foundation in Washington, D.C., a
position he held until the Foundation's liquidation in 1960.
a quiet man, possessed the gift of words and was a prolific writer.
Much of his work was fiction, stories of adventure involving
cowboys, forest rangers, and frontier characters. His 12 books of
fiction included Guardians of the Desert, Death Rides the
Mesa, North to Danger, The Gay Bandit of the Border,
and No Place for Women. The first book was published in 1930,
the last in 1946.
addition to his fiction, Gill wrote numerous short stories and
serials which were published in leading magazines of the day, such
as Saturday Evening Post, American Magazine,
Cosmopolitan, and Reader’s Digest. His writing brought
him into personal contact with editors of national magazines, as
well as with columnists, professional writers, and radio
commentators. Several of his novels were made into movies.
Gill was much more interested in forestry than he was in fiction
writings. He was one of the leading drafters of the report
establishing the forestry division of the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) of the United Nations; he established, financed,
and directed as president the activities of the International
Society of Tropical Foresters; he won the Sir William Schlich
Memorial Medal in 1954; and he participated in the first six of the
seven World Forestry Congresses. At the time of his death he was
planning to attend the Seventh Congress in Buenos Aires.
Most of the leaders in forestry from other countries were Gill’s
personal friends; they kept him in close touch with developments in
forestry world-wide. Also, a heavy travel schedule throughout the
world gave him a first-hand acquaintance with the forests of other
countries. In 1953 his outstanding contributions to Latin American
forestry were recognized when the University of the Andes in
Venezuela conferred on him an honorary doctorate. Everywhere he went
he studied the forests for scientific interest, and, with his flair
for the dramatic, observed the people and settings for use in his
fiction. His particular interest was tropical forestry. McMillan
Publishing Company published his Forests and Mankind in
1930—a book co-authored with Charles Lathrop Pack. McMillan also
published Gill’s Forest Facts for Schools which was the most
widely distributed school book on forestry in its day. His
Tropical Forests of the Caribbean (1931)
was until then the definitive work on the area. With Ellen Dowling
he compiled a book in 1943 for the American Tree Association called
the Forestry Directory. Gill was particularly interested in
land use in Mexico and in 1951 wrote Land Hunger in Mexico.
(Abstracted from an article by A.J. McClure, Journal of Forestry.