The son of Colley W. and Eleanor Dixie Gilchrist, he was born January 9, 1938, in Gadsden, Alabama, and graduated from Gadsden High School. While at Harvard he was a Kirkland House resident, Navy ROTC student, and member of the WHRB staff. He received his A.B. in government with the Class in 1960.
He discharged his obligation to the navy after graduation and then entered law school at Emory University, completing a J.D. in 1966.
After practicing law for two decades in Ashville, Alabama, he became president of Alabama Keno Associates, Inc., a group of investors seeking to legalize the game of Keno as a city, county, or state lottery.
He was survived by his wife, Linda Sue; a daughter, Janie Turner; two stepdaughters, Pam Clark and Susie Thomas; his mother; a sister, Mary Jane; and six grandchildren.