Monday, June 10, 2019
12:00 PM EDT
42nd Ave and County Road 374
Paw Paw, MI 49079
Life Story / Obituary
Roland Gilbert found peace and happiness in the simple things in life. He was most content when he was puttering around the house, or working on his wood working projects. Roland, or Gil, was fortunate to share almost 53 year with his soulmate, Louise. The pair was described as two peas in a pod! Though he was quiet in nature, his presence will be greatly missed.
The beginning of the 1930s was a difficult time for most Americans. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the decade began with the start of the Great Depression. Even with the cost of a loaf of bread at a mere 9 cents and a pound of ground hamburger at 13 cents, millions of Americans struggled to keep food on their tables. In an effort to increase employment and economic activity, President Hoover asked Congress to approve a $150,000,000 public works project. Despite the challenges of the times, technology continued to move forward. Clarence Birdseye invented and patented the process of quick-freezing foods and the first analog computer was invented at MIT in Boston. In Madison, Maine, the Gilbert family forgot the challenges of the time for a while as they awaited the birth of their second child. On October 16, 1930, Roland “Gil” Gilbert was welcomed into the world by his parents, Roland Harvest and Carrie Matilda (Padham) Gilbert. Gil joined his brother Bob to complete the Gilbert family.
As a child, Gil and his family moved around frequently as his father sought work as an electrician while his mother cared for the boys and tended to their home. Gil attended local schools and following graduation, he joined the Air Force. He was stationed in England and he proudly served his country. Gil’s time in the Air Force spurred a life-long love of airplanes and flying and as a result, each year he anxiously looked forward to the Kalamazoo Air Show
Gil worked for many years at Schafer Bakeries in Kalamazoo. While working in the receiving department, he met a young woman by the name of Martha “Louise” Russell who racked buns for shipping. The two hit it off and, after a short courtship, they were married on April 17, 1961 at the preacher’s home – a day made even more memorable by the foot of snow they received! They both brought a child to their marriage from previous relationships – Gil had a two-year old son, Alan, and Louise had a daughter, Debi who Gil quickly adopted.
As a family, Gil, Louise and Debi shared some of their most memorable times while camping at places like Ely Lake or Gun Lake. Though Louise did share in Gil’s and Debi’s love of fishing, she would happily stay behind in the trailer and wait for them to return with their day’s catch. In the springtime, the family also enjoyed hunting mushrooms up north in the Baldwin area and in the fall, Gil could be found enjoying the solitude of the up north woods while he hunted for deer.
Closer to home, Gil enjoyed working with his hands whether puttering around in his garage, or working on his latest wood-working project. He turned out many miniature windmills that he painstakingly crafted, undoubtedly following the unwritten wood-working rule that you always measure twice and cut once! Sports were another favorite pastime of Gil’s. He enjoyed baseball and football and he was a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan. He followed them on radio and TV and he struck by them through both thick and thin. To keep up on current events, Gil watched the news on TV and religiously read his daily newspaper. Country music was his genre of choice, especially classic country artists like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. And, at the end of a long, hard day, Gil enjoyed nothing more than an ice-cold beer.
Becoming a grandfather was one of the highlights of Gil’s life. He loved spoiling and spending time with his grandchildren, Kelly and Norman. Later in life, he treasured the arrival of his great-grandchildren and he spoiled them just the same.
After more than 30 years at Schafer Bakeries, Gil retired from his job as a baker. His retirement was bittersweet – the hours were long and hard, but he enjoyed the work and the companionship of his co-workers. Not ones to be idle, Gil and Louise then purchased a party store in Peacock, Michigan to keep them busy. After a few years, the couple decided to sell the store when Louise’s health began to fail.
Sadly, on February 3, 2014, Louise passed away. Her death was hard on Gil and as a result, he turned his grief inward and began spending more time on his own. In May of this year, he suffered a small stroke and then a few weeks later, he suffered another. He eventually moved to hospice care where he was lovingly care for during the last week of his life.
Gil didn’t need extravagance to make his life complete. He was happiest when he was at home and he never took anything for granted. He counted the day he married his soul-mate as one of the greatest days of his life. How could you be more fortunate than to spend your life, hand in hand, with someone whose company you truly enjoyed? His life was indeed blessed.
Roland “Gil” Gilbert, age 88, of Paw Paw died on Thursday, June 5, 2019 at Wings of Hope Hospice House in Allegan. He was preceded in death by his wife, Louise. Members of his family include his 2 children: Alan Gilbert and Debra Gilbert; 2 grandchildren: Kelly Sanchez, Norman Overhiser and Alan Wilson; several great-grandchildren and one great great grandson The family will receive friends from 5-7 pm on Sunday June 9th, 2019 at the Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M-40 Hwy; Paw Paw (269) 657-3870. Graveside services will be held at 12 noon on Monday at Wildey Cemetery in Paw Paw. Please visit Gil’s personal memory page at www.betzlerlifestory.com where you can share a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of your choice.