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Gary Gilbert Obituary|
Neil Mangum Remembers
Gary| John Husk
Gary and Joy Gilbert working on the Soldier-Warrior Project
in the Stone House at Little Bighorn Battlefield
It is painful to share the news of Gary (Sonny) Gilbertís passing to our Friends membership. Gary unexpectedly passed away on July 4, 2014 in a tragic accident. Gary and Joy Gilbert are some of the nicest people one could ever know. I cannot begin to imagine how Joy must be feeling after the loss of her husband. Gary was a true friend with a huge heart, and it was filled with a passion for the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Gary and Joy volunteered several seasons at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (LIBI) during Neil Mangum's administration and under supervision of then Chief Historian John Doerner. John, Gary, and Joy worked on a multitude of projects, but the one that became most important for LIBI and in Gary's big heart was the Soldier-Warrior Project. The purpose of the project was to identify the names of soldiers and warriors who fought and/or died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. At the outset, the Park Service approved publishing this list of names on the Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield website. The result made for easy informational access for researchers; this freed up time for the LIBI staff during which they would normally be answering questions related to names, allowing them to delve deeper into their own work, research, and projects.
Gary continued his research for warrior names long after his volunteer duties were completed at LIBI. Over the last decade, Gary regularly provided updates to this list of warriors for the Friends website. In 2012, Gary created a new list that identified the names of warriors from the battle who later performed in various Wild West Shows. Gary's emails with the subject header, "LBH Update" will be missed, not just by me, but by an untold number of people who will no longer benefit from his tireless research. His last update to the warrior list was on April 26, 2014.
It is so sad knowing Gary is gone, but I am fortunate to have had him as a good friend. Part of our connection was our love of history and the support Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield gives to LIBI. His emails are already missed. Gary often wrote to me about books he was interested in reading. His preferences included books about the battle, the Alamo, and outlaws and lawmen. We enjoyed discussing these topics and the writings about them. When we finished talking shop, he always took the time to ask how Joanne and the kids were doing.
LIBI always seemed empty during the times Gary and Joy could not make it. I was sad when Gary broke the news to me that he and Joy wouldnít be able to make it for the Friends events and the 138th anniversary in June this year, but I am grateful that I got to see them at the Denver Symposium last April. I was able to experience Garyís big smile and handshake one last time. The quality time we were able to take to visit afterwards is something I will be able to use to call up good memories of Gary. When you bid farewell to a person, you never expect it to be the last time.
God Bless Gary and Joy,
July 6, 2014
In lieu of flowers, Joy Gilbert has asked donations to be made in Gary Gilbertís name to Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield.
Gary's warm personality touched many people. Below are some of their memories of Gary.
Jerry Greene: I just saw your posting of the news about Gary. What a loss! Like you, I saw him at the Denver Symposium, during which he made sure that I had copies of his warrior lists. What a kind and generous soul he was, and his enthusiasm was unbounded. I'm glad that I saw him that last time with his big smile and wonderfully generous nature about him. Thanks for writing such a moving tribute. It was well deserved.
Sandy Barnard: Such sad news. Gary was a delightful guy to know. He never lacked a smile.
Dale Kosman: This is such terribly sad news. Gary was the nicest guy - always gave a warm welcome when we'd meet up at LIBI. Condolences to Joy, Ken and the rest of their family.
Kay Hunsaker: I am shocked & deeply saddened by this news. His friendship and ready smile will be greatly missed.
Copyright 1999-2013 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022