A Gentle Giant
By Charlotte Jackson
Earlier this month, the North Channel Community lost a friend, a leader and a true Rotarian. While in Colorado Springs, James “Jim” Gilbert passed away on July 13, 2019.
He had been an instrumental part of the North Channel area before retiring to Carrolton, TX. Many of us knew him from the years he worked at Woodforest National Bank as well as the years he worked with Community Bank. Others knew him from the years he served on the boards of the W.D. Ley YMCA, Texas Chiropractic College as well as serving three years as the President of the Port Region Economic Alliance.
He was a cofounder of the North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce and he has the rare distinction of having served as President of both the Galena Park/Jacinto City Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of North Shore.
As mentioned during a Memorial Service which was held at Fellowship of the Nations on Monday, July 22, the year that Jim served as President Elect of the North Shore Rotary, the fundraising record soared passed $300,000 for the Annual Catfish Fray and Crawfish Boil. Both Dr. Charles Grant and Bill Palko mentioned that Jim’s ability to impact lives on a personal level and develop relationships led to this accomplishment. Jim never met a stranger.
Dr. Grant mentioned that he first met Jim while working for Galena Park ISD and attending a meeting of the Galena Park/Jacinto City Rotary Club. Throughout the next several decades, Jim and his wife Mary Anne spent many hours with Charles and Gail Grant due to the involvement both couples had in the various community organizations. Later, as the Gilberts retired and moved to Colorado Spring, the Grants not only traveled to visit them but would continue to value their friendship. Oddly enough, Jim was a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Charles was a graduate of Texas A & M University.
During the Memorial Service, Charles mentioned that as the Gilberts would decorate five Christmas trees, one with only UT ornaments, Charles could not help but hide the gaudiest A&M ornament on the back of the tree. As the Gilberts were undecorating the tree, they came across the ornament and immediately knew it had been Charles who hid it there during the North Shore Rotary Christmas Party.
Bill Palko, former Rotary District Governor also spoke at the service as well as Wayne Oquin, former President of the Chamber. Both men gave numerous examples of the acts of kindness and mentorship which Jim had shared with many over the years. It did not matter if Jim had known you for years or simply just met you, he would focus on you with all of his attention. He listened, he cared and he led. His presence will be missed yet, he was such a gentle giant that the impact he made will be forever felt. Please continue to keep his wife of 53 years in your prayers as well as their children, grandchildren and numerous family and friends in your prayers.
And as you see members of the Rotary Club of North Shore, reach out and offer your condolences as well. He was a part of the group of men such as Jerry Dominy, John Painter, Mike Patterson, Eddie Miller, Derrill Painter, Don Nino, Dan Mims, Frank Nadolney, BJ Johnson, Billy Ray Hendrix and others who have helped shape this community into what it is… a community of friendship, love and service above self.