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Agriculturalist Of The Year - Gilbert Honored
Gilbert 2
California Agriculturalist of the Year Bob Gilbert displays a proclamation from the Oakdale City Council declaring July 8 as “Bob Gilbert Day” in Oakdale. - photo by RICHARD PALOMA/ The Leader
Joining a distinguished list of honorees over the past 30 years, Longtime Oakdale resident and businessman Robert “Bob” Gilbert was celebrated as “2011 Agriculturalist of the Year” by the State of California.
Gilbert was recognized for the prestigious award on July 8 during a special gala in his honor at the California State Fair.
The award, chosen by a special committee on the State Agricultural Advisory Council, has been presented since 1980 to individuals who have contributed extensively and professionally to the agricultural industry.
“I usually play things low key,” said Gilbert, “but when you get an award like this, you have to be proud.”
Gilbert is the last surviving child of Emma and Amos Lawrence Gilbert. At 87 years old, Gilbert continues to run the company his father founded in 1892, working as the chairman of the board of directors for A.L. Gilbert of Oakdale and its over 250 employees.
After attending Oakdale High School and Modesto Junior College, Gilbert went on to the University of California and enrolled in naval programs after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He received his commission from the United States Naval Reserve Mid-Shipman School at Northwestern University in Chicago at age 20.
After World War II, Gilbert graduated from University of California, Berkeley with an agricultural economics degree under the GI bill in 1947.
Gilbert started touring California studying soil its conditions with Professor Earl Storie, of the “Storie Soils Index.” The data Gilbert gathered during this endeavor assisted farmers in growing more than 150 crops.
After his father passed away in 1947, Gilbert returned to Oakdale and joined the family business.
For nearly 65 years, Gilbert has been an advocate for agriculture. He’s worked with both government and private industry on behalf of farmers and livestock producers. He’s traveled over 90 countries studying production and marketing of agriculture as globalization developed, including attending the World Economics Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Gilbert said news of his consideration of the award was kept from him until it was announced by the selection committee.
“I guess I have some key friends in places,” Gilbert quipped. “Seriously though, I take this as quite an honor.”
Gilbert credits his success to a loving family, loyal friends, and dedicated employees over the years. His wife Beverly has been an integral part of all he has done over the past 65 years.
At the July 5 Oakdale City Council meeting, Mayor Pat Paul proclaimed July 8 as “Bob Gilbert Day” in Oakdale.
“The man is incredible,” said Paul. “I was invited to the State Fair as his guest, so I thought it would be nice to have his home town honor him too.”
Gilbert said he would be marking both the state and city celebrations with friends and family and wanted to recognize his many employees for their efforts throughout his years with A.L. Gilbert.