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Obituary of John “Jack” J. Gilbert Jr.

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John J. Gilbert Jr., age 95, passed away peacefully on October 9, 2020, at Kendal in Ithaca, NY. Born May 7, 1925, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Far Rockaway, NY, to John J. Gilbert and Eileen Marie (O’Donnell) Gilbert. He was predeceased by his wife, Inger Molmen Gilbert and his younger siblings: Francis, Paul and Ann. He is survived by his children: Gael Gilbert of St. Marys, GA, Mari (Ron) Kosobucki of Hamburg, NY, John J. (Diana) Gilbert III of New Rochelle, NY, Ellen (Gary) Anstett of Hamburg, NY and Marta (Tom) Lowe of Binghamton, NY. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Erik (Jennifer) Kosobucki , John J. (fiancé, Veronica) Gilbert IV, Paul Anstett, Emily Lowe, Colleen (Matt) Coles and Christopher (fiancé, Emily) Lowe and three great-grandchildren.

John (Jack) grew up in Douglaston, NY. His father was the under seas cable engineer for Bell Telephone Labs and was in charge of construction of a cable by a company in Germany. For several years Jack lived with his parents in Germany and England. Being under school age allowed Jack to travel in Europe with his mother and a maid—an introduction to the good life. Playing with German children he learned to speak German.

After completion of the cable the family returned to the United States and to Douglaston and to first grade in P.S. 98. His time in Europe gave him a head start on his classmates and he finished the 8 years in 6 years and graduated at age 12.

Onto Bayside High School but he did not do well in high school and kept moving to lower level classes. After five terms at Bayside HS his parents decided they had to move Jack to another school so off he went to New Hampton School—a boys school in New Hampshire. He graduated after 3 terms at age 16 which was too young for college so he stayed at New Hampton for two more terms.

Admitted to Cornell University he started in the fall of 1942 and joined Theta Xi Fraternity. After 3 terms at Cornell he joined the Navy in November 1943 and served until June 1946 including a six month tour of the China coast aboard an LST (Landing Ship Tank).

Back to Cornell in Fall 1946 Jack moved into the fraternity house to study civil engineering in Lincoln Hall. During 1946 Christmas vacation after much soul searching he called Inger Molmen, a Cornell coed from Port Washington, NY, and asked her to join him for Cornell night at Frank Dailey’s Meadowbrook, a large dance hall in New Jersey. She accepted and they enjoyed the evening. For both of them it was an instant recognition that the relationship was forever. They married September 11, 1949 after both had graduated from Cornell.

Jack graduated in February 1949 and started working in central New York as a sales engineer for a steel company. He lived in Syracuse in a small apartment where Inger joined him after their marriage. Soon they arranged to have a small 2 bedroom house built for them in Syracuse where they lived until Jack changed jobs in 1954 and they moved to Binghamton with daughters Gael and Mari. A couple of months later they moved to Chestertown, MD, a charming community on the Delmarva Peninsula. Jack was involved in construction inspection on the Bluestar Memorial Highway in Maryland. After about a year on this job they left for western New York having added son John III to their family (3 kids in 4 years).

In western New York they settled down in Hamburg, a suburb of Buffalo, first in a large apartment and then into a five bedroom house where they lived for 42 years and added Ellen and Marta to their family, a total of five children.

Jack’s work life was varied: highway design and construction, anti-poverty work and 5 years with Greater Buffalo Development Foundation. He was active in Hamburg Presbyterian Church serving 2 terms as a Ruling Elder and was delegate to the 1970 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. He also served two terms as a Village Trustee in Hamburg and eleven years as Town Engineer for the Town of Hamburg.

Retirement came in 1990 and they decided they would do some traveling. They spent three months a year in New Smyrna Beach in Florida for several years until hurricane damage changed the landscape. Inger was of Norwegian descent with many relatives in Norway so they had some trips to Norway with their children. Jack was also very proud of his Irish heritage making a number of trips with Inger where they met family members and visited old homesteads. They also enjoyed cruising on ships, both large and small.

During a walk on the beach at New Smyrna they decided they would move to the Ithaca area to take advantage of sports and theatre. After looking at many homes in the Ithaca area they ended up in 1997 in Cayuga Heights. In 1993 Jack became deeply involved in the affairs of the Cornell Class of 1949 becoming the co-chair, with Inger, of their 45th class reunion in 1994, their 50th class reunion in 1999. Soon after moving to Ithaca Jack joined the Tompkins County Library Board of Trustees and served as Treasurer. In 2004 Jack became the president of the class of 1949. In 2011 they moved in Cayuga Heights to a very nice four bedroom ranch home which meant they didn’t have to climb stairs any more. In January 2012 Jack and Inger received the William Vanneman ’31 Outstanding Class Leader Award from Cornell which they traveled to Washington D.C. to accept. This was their last traveling experience together.

In April 2019 Jack moved to Kendal at Ithaca. The family would like to thank the staff of Kendal, especially Owasco House, for their kind and compassionate care.

Donations in Jack’s memory should be made to the charity of one’s choice. Services will be private at the convenience of the family.

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