Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Gilberto Thomas Olivares, MD

January 21, 1957 - October 19, 2019
Mattawan, MI



Wednesday, October 23, 2019
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900

6:30 PM The Rosary will be recited.

Driving Directions

Mass of Christian Burial

Thursday, October 24, 2019
11:00 AM EDT
St. John Bosco Catholic Church
23830 Front Street
Mattawan, MI 49071
(269) 668-3312
Web Site


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

St. John Bosco Catholic Church
23830 Front Street
Mattawan, MI 49071
(269) 668-3312
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


With keen intellect, Gilberto Thomas Olivares, MD, led a life filled with charisma, generosity, and humor. He was a caring husband, a loving father, and a respected cardiologist and friend to many. We will never forget the memories we shared with him.

When Gil began his life, the world was busy making history. The Baby Boomer years hit their peak in the year of 1957 while more and more couples settled into life without as much hardship. Many enjoyed the use of credit, and this was notably prevalent with the ownership of cars, which averaged a price tag of $2,749. The Soviet Union and the United States began the challenge of the Space Race when they launched the first man-made space satellite called Sputnik 1. Closer to Earth, Elvis Presley purchased a mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, and named it Graceland. Children all over the country were entertained with Slinkys on the stairsteps, the amazing gliding ability of the first Frisbee, and whirled their bodies for hours using the ever-popular Hula Hoop. Life was pretty good!

Life was about to get even better for Melquiades and Lilia (Arredondo) Olivares because they were expecting a precious baby. In Saginaw, Michigan, the world welcomed Gilberto Thomas on January 21, 1957. Gil was the second of four children; Mel, Lupita, and Jesse helped Gil make many childhood memories in Linwood, Michigan. Their parents worked hard to make sure the family was comfortable; his father was a farmer, and his mom stayed home to keep the family happy and organized.

When the kids were old enough, they were expected to help work on the farm. They farmed both crops and animals. Though this work helped instill a strong work ethic, it also helped Gil realize it was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

As he matured, he attended Pinconning High School, where he played football as a fullback. A true Spartan, he loved the camaraderie of his teammates and the challenge of the game. He was athletic, and he also had the academic mind - successfully participating in the debate team. He graduated with the class of 1975.

After earning his high school diploma, he had set his mind on bigger plans. He began taking classes at Michigan State University, where he studied microbiology. Always a social person, he also had a lot of fun participating in student life to maximize his college experience. From MSU, he attended Wayne State Medical School, where he studied internal medicine. He completed his cardiology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic.

During his residency in Cleveland, he found the woman he was determined to marry. Her name was Carol Lehmann, and he wasted no time in asking her out. To his dismay, she turned him down - many times. Finally, after her sister talked some sense into her, she asked HIM out! With no hesitation, Gil said yes. It was a good match, and the courtship lasted two years.

They planned a wedding at Holy Rosary Church in Cleveland's Little Italy, where they exchanged vows on April 22, 1989. Gil planned their honeymoon, surprising Carol with a trip to Jamaica.

The newlyweds settled into life, as Gil worked on finishing up his fellowship. Just a couple of years later, they decided to take on the adventure of becoming parents. They eventually expanded their twosome into a family consisting of 5 children: Gilbert, Elena, Eva, Andrea, and Lily made Gil a proud father. For each new baby, Gil brought a lavish gift and a beautiful bouquet of red roses to Carol. Mixed in with the red, he included one perfect white rose symbolizing the newest addition to the family.

In 1992, they moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, as Gil accepted a position at Bronson Hospital. In his time there, he helped start Advanced Cardiac Healthcare. Eventually, Gil went to the Heart Center at Borgess Hospital. He specialized in cardiovascular disease and worked hard to establish a strong presence in the community of Kalamazoo. He was the type of doctor who shared his cell phone number with patients because he cared deeply for all of them.

His consistent dedication to work was admirable, but his love for family trumped everything else. He adored his children and would endlessly joke and tease them. Gil’s support for his kids knew no bounds. He never hesitated to get out there and play right along with the kids, even building an indoor soccer field for all the neighborhood to use. Gil also had a secretive soft spot in his heart for the family pets - though he never let anyone know. The kids loved to gather at their house, and this made Gil very happy. The busy house created a strong family connection.

In addition to hosting his children and their friends, he loved having family over to share good food, good scotch, and good conversation filled with laughter and love. The occasional fine cigar was often a bonus to these cherished times. Gil was quite the grill master at many of these gatherings. Somehow he could always cook up something for the pickiest kid at the table too. Christmas was one of his favorite family times. He looked forward to attending Midnight Mass, the arrival of Santa Claus, and breaking bread with all those he loved.

On the rare occasion Gil found himself not entertaining, he loved to be outside in nature. Riding his Gator in the fresh air was one of the simple pleasures he appreciated. He also looked forward to the warm weather when he could enjoy the cottage and Crooked Lake - a spot where his pontoon boat aided his fishing attempts.

In the colder months, he entertained himself with watching the History Channel, Animal Planet, the news, and Rachel Maddow. He also liked the Spanish guitar, Santana, and Talking Heads. He was always up for a shopping trip - especially if it meant he might add to his already robust shoe collection.

With great sadness, we must look to one another to share the memories of Gil's life. After 62 years of life in this world, he died in his home unexpectedly on October 19, 2019. We will greatly miss Gil's passion for life, his contribution to the community's health, and his genuine manner. He left with great love still in his heart; throughout life, Carol and Gil would squeeze or tap one another three times to mean, "I love you." Right before Gil passed away, he squeezed her hand three times.

Gil was preceded in death by his parents and by a grandson, Lewis Lawrence. Gil was loved dearly by his wife of 30 years, Carol Olivares; 5 children: Gilbert Olivares (Tricia Russell), Elena Olivares (Michael Burk-Lawrence), Eva Olivares (James Lee), Andrea Olivares and Lily Olivares; 3 siblings: Mel Olivares, M.D., Lupita Olivares – Vasquez (Richard) and Jesse Olivares. Visitation Wednesday 4-7 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home (6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, MI, 269-375-2900). A rosary will be recited at 6:30 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday 11 AM at St. John Bosco Church (23830 Front St., Mattawan). Burial will follow at Cuddeback Cemetery, Paw Paw. Please visit Gil's personal memory page at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. John Bosco Church.