He keeps Taft on the air and records its history, mostly for free.
A Taft man known throughout the community for his work portraying Taft, its heritage and its people is not doing too well.
Don Gillaspie is recovering from a series of strokes.
Gillapsie was stricken in early June and is currently hospitalized at San Joaquin Hospital in Bakersfield, longtime friend Bill Nelson said.
Friends its too soon for Don to have visitors, but Nelson said his visit elicited a smile from Gillaspie and encouraged those who know his friend to write.
“I'm really convinced expressions of appreciation for all he's done will motivate him as he tries to come back from this,” Nelson said.
A man whose work is probably better known than he is, the soft-spoken Gillaspie operates Chroma Teleproductions and is a regular at community events with his video camera and his work is seen regularly over Brighthouse cable Channel 11.
Gillaspie has for years chronicled current events and saved them as history for future generations.
He worked with Pete Gianopulos on “Taft Heritage,” a series of interviews with longtime Taft residents that has helped record the community's history.
In addition to taping Taft City Council meetings, he shoots nearly everything from Taft Union High School Hall of Fame induction ceremonies to elementary school programs to the annual Christmas Parade to Oildorado.
He is even working on being part of a team developing a locally-produced children's show.
“I've asked him on occasion for the motivation behind his efforts,” Nelson said. “His response was humbling to me: 'I just want these folks to have a chance to see that they're somebody!' Don Gillaspie's love for his town is evident to all who know him, and that affection has translated into literally hundreds of hours of Westside television programming created by his selfless service to his community.”
Except for a contract with the city to record and broadcast city council meetings and paid stint as an instructor at TUHS, Gillaspie has done nearly all of his work for free.
“I'm sure that many readers have benefitted from Don's generosity without realizing it,” Nelson said. “Hardly a notable Taft event transpires without Don doing his best to make it available over the local cable channel. Those who enjoy these many parades and artistic showcase events may be surprised to learn that Don does not receive compensation for most of those broadcasts."