ROGER WHITNEY GILBERT
Our husband, father, grandfather was with us until February 12, 2013.
Roger was born on March 3, 1932 in Los Angeles, CA to Al Whitney Gilbert and Evelyn Kleinsorg Gilbert. Roger grew up in Los Angeles with his younger brother Clark.
Roger met his wife-to-be Jocelyn Ann Muller at the University of California Berkeley at a Fraternity/Sorority mixer when they were freshmen in September 1949. They grew up at Cal together for four years, and were married April 30, 1953. Roger graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Business Administration in June 1953; he went to Berkeley when they actually made it to the Rose Bowl three out of four years!
Since Roger loved his country he joined the ROTC while at Berkeley. Upon graduation, before reporting to active duty at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he pumped gas at Standard Oil, which must have been the beginning of his lifelong work ethic. On their way to Fort Sill, Jocelyn became pregnant with their first child. At Fort Sill, Roger was a Service Battery Commander in charge of 8 inch howitzers, with 45 soldiers under his command.
Roger and Jocelyn started their family at Fort Sill with the birth of Michael Whitney on June 6, 1954. After leaving the Army, they moved back to California and Roger went to work for Great American Insurance Company. Shortly thereafter, their second son Bradley Paul came along on October 30, 1956. Four and a half years later, their daughter Cynthia Ann joined the family on March 31, 1961.
Roger, Jocelyn and the three kids grew up for most of their childhood in Hawthorne, California, enjoying years of Little League, PTA, church activities and fun family vacations and outings, with those early family years spent driving across the country in a station wagon, crammed into one room at Best Westerns and Quality Inns. Later, along with the grandchildren, the collective Gilbert family was able to go on many an adventurous trip far and wide, courtesy of Roger’s love of his family and his love to travel.
Michael, Bradley and Cynthia were all successful in their scholastic and professional endeavors and all became happily married. Michael found Susan at UCLA, Bradley met Carla at UC San Diego Medical School and Cynthia met Jesse at the UCLA School of Social Work. After marriage, they gave Roger and Jocelyn seven wonderful grandchildren. Megan and Kevin for Mike and Sue; Brendan, Lauren and Brian for Brad and Carla; and Christopher and Jordan for Cynthia and Jesse. Among them - kids, grandkids and spouses - they have accumulated a total of 23 degrees, with three more on the way! This is a testament to Roger and Jocelyn’s belief in and commitment to the education of their children and grandchildren.
Roger’s long, successful career with Great American ended with him as the President of Great American West in 1988 in Orange, California after serving as Senior Vice President of the company in Cincinnati, Ohio for many years. During this time, he had the opportunity to work with his brother Clark. After retirement from Great American, he served as a Deputy Insurance Commissioner for the state, liquidating a bankrupt mortgage guarantee company.
When Roger officially retired, he felt life had been good to him and he wanted to give back to the community. Roger received the Spirit of Life Award from the City of Hope on May 16, 1992. This was awarded in recognition for Roger’s outstanding contributions to his community and devotion to the scientific precepts and ideals of the organization. The 14th annual achievement award was presented in a large recognition gathering on this same date.
Roger was beloved by the members of the Newport Balboa Rotary Club. He joined the club in 1984 and served on the Board of Directors for decades. He was president from 1995-96, won Rotarian of the Year in 1992-93, and received the Bob Callis Award for Service in 1997-98. He was a major donor to the Rotarian International Fund, and was designated the Paul Harris Fellow for contributions to the foundation. Members characterized him as the “Rock” of the Board and the Club.
From 1998 until the present, Roger served as a volunteer board member and audit chairman of the companies in the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, which serves 12,000 other charitable nonprofits in 30 states. In those capacities he was generous with his time and talents and was both a tough taskmaster and a patient teacher -- universally admired and loved by board members and staff alike.
In talking with those individuals in these organizations, he was characterized as a rock, a huge and irreplaceable resource, the “go-to” guy, a mentor, teacher and sage advisor; he steered people to do the right thing, and always did the right thing by those he served. One long time friend echoed a sentiment shared by many by saying that, whether Roger was in the room or not in the room, everyone spoke highly of him, respected him and never had anything but high praise for him and what kind of person he was.
How do you define a life and capture a man in so many words? How do you say goodbye to someone who meant so much to so many, especially to his family? We find it very hard to say goodbye to a husband, father and grandfather. And so we say, “Goodbye for now. I will see you later. I love you. We will always be together.”
Services will be held on February 19, 2013 at Pacific View Memorial Park Chapel, 3500 Pacific View Drive, Corona Del Mar 92625 at 2:00 p.m. A reception will follow at the Santa Ana Country Club, 20382 Newport Blvd., Santa Ana 92707-5396. Donations in lieu of flowers preferred to the Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa (newportbeachrotary.com, 949-209-9021) or the City of Hope (www.cityofhope.org, 626-256-4673).Copyright © 2015, CT Now