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On December 28, 2018, God called Bill Gilbert home. God called his beloved wife, Lillian, one week earlier.
Bill was born on April 9, 1931, in Washington, D.C., to Raymond and Marguerite Gilbert. He was one of seven children. He grew up in Nativity parish and attended school there through the eighth grade before graduating from Coolidge High School. After he was befriended by Washington Post columnist Shirley Povich, Bill was hired as a copy boy at the newspaper when he was 16. He went on to become a sports and news reporter. Bill then enlisted in the Air Force in 1951 during the Korean War. He served four years at Keesler Air Force Base, where he was able to use his writing skills and also learn public relations. After his service, he returned to Washington and worked at the Post for a time before his career took him to other jobs that included Information Officer for Montgomery County, Marketing Director for the Washington Senators, Public Affairs Director for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and Communications Counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. He won national awards for newsletters, annual reports and other publications and also wrote press statements, speeches and Congressional testimony. Bill was a highly successful author of more than 20 books. The Duke of Flatbush with baseball Hall of Famer Duke Snider was a New York Times bestseller. Now Pitching: Bob Feller was a USA Today bestseller, and Real Grass, Real Heroes with Dom DiMaggio was a Doubleday best-seller. Ship of Miracles, about what some called the greatest sea rescue in the history of mankind, won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Award for excellence in Naval history.
While he was with the Montgomery County Government, Bill met Lillian, who worked in the personnel office. He remained steadfastly devoted to the love of his life through more than 59 years of marriage. They always said that True Love by Cole Porter from the movie High Society was their song. There is no better way to describe their years of devotion to each other. As his daughter-in-law Katy says, “I was fortunate to have a front row seat to witness one of the greatest love stories I will ever see in my lifetime.” So many others have said the same thing.
Everyone who hears of them passing within a week of each other sees a beauty in God bringing them to heaven together.
Bill was the best husband to Lillian, father to David, father-in-law to Katy and grandfather to Anna. He offered his unfailing support, encouragement and guidance in all of David’s activities
from youth to adulthood. He was often the head coach or assistant coach of David’s many teams and enjoyed teaching the kids life lessons that went way beyond sports. Many of his former players remember those lessons to this day. He was the biggest fan and most enthusiastic cheerleader of all his family and friends. Throughout his entire life, even in his later years with dementia, Bill Gilbert remained a man of faith, family, integrity, kindness, enthusiasm, humor and hope.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond Lee Gilbert and Marguerite Hampson Gilbert, as well as his sisters, Mary Fallon, Annette Gilbert and Margie Petruccelli, his brothers,
Lee Gilbert and Jack Gilbert, and his beloved Lillian.
He will be greatly missed, but his example and his love live on in our hearts, and we look forward to the day when we will be reunited in heaven.
Visitation will be on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, from 10:00 until 11:30 am at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 4101 Norbeck Road, Rockville, MD 20853 with Mass of Christian Burial at 11:30 am. Interment with his wife, Lillian Gilbert, to follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Catholic Charities. www.catholiccharitiesdc.org
Catholic Charities of Washingon DC
PO Box 96185, Washington DC 20090-6185