Oakdale’s Robert “Bob” Gilbert, who, along with his family, was honored earlier this year by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce with their Lifetime Achievement Award, passed away at age 93 on Sunday, Nov. 20 late in the evening.
“This is definitely a sad loss of a fine man to the City of Oakdale,” said Mayor Pat Paul. “To me, Bob was a legend and had the most amazing stories about his life and details of the city. Our hearts go out to his family.”
Gilbert was the last surviving child of Amos Lawrence and Emma Gilbert.
In 1892, Amos Gilbert established the A.L. Gilbert Company, originally as a lumber company, and in 1900, the company opened a small grain brokerage and later built a grain warehouse establishing the foundation for what it is today.
After attending Oakdale High School and Modesto Junior College, Bob 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.
In 1945, the same week he returned from service in the war in the Pacific, Gilbert married Beverly Jane Stone of Oakdale and they later had five children.
After World War II, in 1947, Gilbert graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with an agricultural economics degree under the GI bill. After his father passed away later the same year, Gilbert returned to Oakdale and joined the family business.
Until recently, Gilbert continued to run the company his father founded working as the chairman of the board of directors for A.L. Gilbert of Oakdale and its over 250 employees.
Gilbert was celebrated as “Agriculturalist of the Year” by the State of California in July 2011 and was recognized for the prestigious award that month during a special gala in his honor at the California State Fair.
The Oakdale Chamber of Commerce honored Gilbert and his family with their Lifetime Achievement Award for the over 100 years of business in Oakdale and continued community and civic mindedness by all the family noting that “their historic establishment in Oakdale and continued operation means a lot to this city economically.”
Bob individually was honored by the Chamber as a Lifetime Achievement Award honoree in 2002.
“The Oakdale Chamber is proud to have honored Bob Gilbert,” said Oakdale Chamber of Commerce CEO Mary Guardiola. “He was a great asset to Oakdale for business and community support. He touched many lives and will be missed.”
In addition to the many jobs his company offered for the community, Gilbert was active in Oakdale philanthropy with his support of the Oakdale Heritage Museum, the Guardian House Children’s Crisis Center, and 50 years of supporting the California Team Roping Association.
In 2015, Bob Gilbert and the Gilbert Family made a substantial donation toward the completion of the Dorada Play Park.
His wife Beverly passed away in May 2014.
No details regarding funeral services were available as of press time.