John W. Gilbert, 73, of Potlatch and formerly of Orofino, died Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, at Miss Dorothy Adult Family Home, of vascular dementia.
If you knew my Dad, you can appreciate two of his “Did you know that today in history ….” for Dec. 17.
So, in 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful man-powered airplane flight. That date is also the anniversary of Hollywood stuntman Stan Barrett became the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. in 1979.
Dad knew many points of trivia about firearms, history, air power, or military actions.
From Dad’s own personal history, he was born with twin brother James “Jim” L. Gilbert on Sept. 9, 1947 in Moscow, to William E. “Bill” and Josephine (Kayler).
His parents owned the Gilbert Mortuary in Orofino. After Grandpa Bill had died in 1963, the twins and Grandma Joie flew to the Midwest to bring a hearse back from Arkansas on a memorable road trip.
Dad graduated from Orofino High School in 1965. He participated in marching band at OHS and in college receiving recognition for his performance.
Dad and Jim’s first joint antique car was a 1931 Model A coupe they restored with help from friends Shelley Steiner’s Auto Body and the Ford Garage in Orofino. Later he joined Jim and wife, Dixie, on classic car tours in the Model A around the area.
He attended the University of Idaho and got bachelor degrees in business and later forestry colleges. When he himself got out of school, he taught school and drove the bus in Shoshone, Idaho, where he gave his life to Jesus Christ.
He is now singing hymns, drumming and praising the Lord in first person. You may have heard his preference for old-time hymns out of a printed hymnal, and has requested absolutely no contemporary music for his services.
He worked at Bennett’s Lumber in Princeton, and as a used car salesman in Lewiston, and as a smoke jumper for the US Forest Service at Bertha Hill Lookout and camping was never a recreation for him.
He met Patricia L. “Patty” (Headrick) in 1978 and they married on July 14, 1979, making their home in Moscow first and later in Potlatch. They held a celebration in 2017 with family and friends. They had been married for 41 years this summer.
He later worked in the UI landscaping maintenance office before he transferred to Washington State University. He moved into Parking and Transportation Services where he could take good care of college vehicles, share great stories about helping students with their vehicle maintenance or on-road snow skiing efforts in between writing tickets as desired.
Dad also played the drum for the Border Highlanders in Moscow around the 1980s.
He enjoyed World War II history, especially related to the B-17s and anything related to my Grandpa Bill’s service.
Westerns were some of Dad’s favorite TV shows and movies. He once shared a quote from Sterling Hayden in the western movie “Johnny Guitar” that some men seek power, some riches, but what most men want is a good cup of coffee.
Dad had a love for plain, black good coffee.
Last but not least, firearms and reloading were definitely Dad’s lifelong passion. He appreciated being a member of the Troy-Deary Gun Club.
He was preceded in death by his father, William E. Gilbert, and his mother, Josephine Kayler Duff, and stepfather Gene Duff; twin brother James L. “Jim” Gilbert; stepsister Nancy Blewett; grandparents James and Harriet (Benscoter) Kayler and Effie (Bundy) and Leslie Gilbert; uncles Marion Kayler, John Kayler, Ray Gilbert and aunts Marvell (Gilbert) Walker and Helen Kayler; nephew Vincent Gilbert.
He is survived by his wife Patty of their home; daughters Stephanie Herbert (Tim) of Lewiston; Carol Clay (Eddie) of Woodstock, Ga.; Kellie Atkinson (Rob) and granddaughter Bethany Atkinson of Moscow; mother-in-law Dortha Headrick of Moscow; aunt Beverly Kayler of Orofino; nieces Christine Green (Joel) of Spokane, WA; Judie Walker (Dusty), of Spokane, WA; Machelle Harris (Troy), of Mead, WA; Kendra Mendoza, of Newport, WA; and nephew Richard Gilbert (Charlette), of Kennewick, WA; step-sisters Connie Kneale (Rob), Moscow, ID; stepbrother Tom (Linda) Blewett, Genesee, ID; and their families.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the donor’s choice or to the Potlatch Ambulance.
A public burial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 26 in the quiet peaceful natural surroundings of the Rock Creek Cemetery. He believed that wearing a mask and maintaining social distance are wise practices, so we will plan to do these to show our love for one another and will be requested.
Dad said that if the weather is crummy, then wait and hold the funeral at a later date, so we will hold a more traditional service once gathering restrictions are gone. Details will be announced here and shared online, or you can contact his daughter Stephanie Herbert at 208-790-6493 to be notified.
Kramer Funeral Home of Palouse is in charge of arrangements.