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Widow of Hernando Beach VFW commander sues post over husband's death

Dennis Gill, right, with VFW members Mike Bixby, from left, Rick Walls and Patrick Cunningham outside Post 9236 in 2008. Gill’s widow, Gail Gill, has filed suit claiming someone at the post plied her husband with liquor in March, leading to his death.

LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN | Times (2008)

Dennis Gill, right, with VFW members Mike Bixby, from left, Rick Walls and Patrick Cunningham outside Post 9236 in 2008. Gill’s widow, Gail Gill, has filed suit claiming someone at the post plied her husband with liquor in March, leading to his death.

HERNANDO BEACH — Shortly after 1 a.m. on March 13, Dennis Gill left the Veterans Of Foreign Wars Post 9236 in his pickup truck and headed south on Shoal Line Boulevard toward his home in Spring Hill.

A few minutes later, the post commander's truck veered onto the road shoulder and slammed sideways into a tree, throwing Gill from the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gill's wife of two years now believes that someone working at the VFW post's bar knowingly served her alcohol-addicted husband too many drinks that night, causing him to be too intoxicated to drive.

On Wednesday, Gail Gill filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the post in Circuit Court, seeking damages in excess of $15,000.

It is not known how much alcohol Gill had in his system the morning of the crash because the Florida Highway Patrol has yet to release its final report on the investigation.

Current post commander Russ Moore was unavailable for comment Friday on the lawsuit.

The 60-year-old Gill was elected to the post's top office in 2008. Earlier in the evening before the crash, he learned that the members had nominated him for a second year as commander.

A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Gill was an Army veteran of the Vietnam War. He earned both a Bronze Star and Silver Star for saving comrades' lives in combat, and received a Purple Heart for injuries that left him 100 percent disabled.

As commander, Gill was hailed for his creative ideas to make Post 9236 more welcoming to veterans and their families. Among the ideas he championed was setting up a men's auxiliary unit, which extended membership to veterans' family members, which he hoped would boost sagging membership.

According to a story published shortly after the crash, Gail Gill and her husband met at the post and frequently enjoyed playing billiards there together.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or 848-1435.

Widow of Hernando Beach VFW commander sues post over husband's death 08/07/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 7, 2009 7:11pm]
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