2009.03.22: March 22, 2009: Headlines: COS - Venezuela: Obituaries: Denver Post: Obituary for Venezuela RPCV Doc Gilbert

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Venezuela: Peace Corps Venezuela : Peace Corps Venezuela: New Stories: 2009.03.22: March 22, 2009: Headlines: COS - Venezuela: Obituaries: Denver Post: Obituary for Venezuela RPCV Doc Gilbert

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Obituary for Venezuela RPCV Doc Gilbert

Obituary for Venezuela RPCV Doc Gilbert

Gail H. "Doc" Gilbert knew how to live. The 90-year-old father of eight died Saturday after having served several terms as Arvada mayor, worked for years as a large-animal veterinarian, volunteered in the Peace Corps and as a junior high school teacher in Mexico, and made a run for lieutenant governor of Colorado. He celebrated his 88th birthday with a tandem jump from a skydiving plane near Longmont and, never one to grow stodgy, followed it up a year later with another jump on his 89th. "He loved to explore new things," said Jim Gilbert, 67, Doc's eldest child and a lawyer who lives in Golden. Doc Gilbert served as mayor of Arvada from 1948 to 1950, and again from 1957 to 1963, before declining to run again.

Obituary for Venezuela RPCV Doc Gilbert

Doc Gilbert: Ex-mayor left his mark

By Annette Espinoza
The Denver Post

Posted: 03/22/2009 12:30:00 AM MDT

Caption: Doc Gilbert at his 90th birthday last November at Indian Tree Golf Club in Arvada. (John Moore, The Denver Post )

Gail "Doc" Gilbert was mayor of Arvada for parts of three decades and was known for working on regional issues.

Gail H. "Doc" Gilbert knew how to live.

The 90-year-old father of eight died Saturday after having served several terms as Arvada mayor, worked for years as a large-animal veterinarian, volunteered in the Peace Corps and as a junior high school teacher in Mexico, and made a run for lieutenant governor of Colorado.

He celebrated his 88th birthday with a tandem jump from a skydiving plane near Longmont and, never one to grow stodgy, followed it up a year later with another jump on his 89th.

"He loved to explore new things," said Jim Gilbert, 67, Doc's eldest child and a lawyer who lives in Golden.

Doc Gilbert served as mayor of Arvada from 1948 to 1950, and again from 1957 to 1963, before declining to run again. Gilbert also
Doc Gilbert at his 90th birthday last November at Indian Tree Golf Club in Arvada. (John Moore, The Denver Post )
served on the Arvada R-1 school board from 1952 to 1955, according to a book about the city published by the Arvada Historical Society. Gilbert ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1962.

"He used to take me on veterinary calls in the country to perform surgery on horses and cows, and he'd let me participate as a little kid," said Jim Gilbert. "He'd let me hold some of the instruments."

The son recalled another side of the veterinarian: "He was a political animal; he loved politics."

"He instilled in his children a sense that we needed to be involved in community, state, national and international affairs," Jim Gilbert said. "He accepted that his eight kids often disagreed with his political viewpoint. He was proud of us for independent thinking."

In the late 1980s, Doc and his second wife, Flo, moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, to retire, yet that retirement became a new career after the two began teaching American history and literature to Mexican junior high school students. They later started a drama department at the local school.

Whenever Gilbert returned to Arvada on visits, he maintained his interest in politics.

"He loved coming back and hearing about what was going on in the city," said former
"Doc" Gilbert, right
Arvada Mayor Ken Fellman, who served from 1999 through 2007.

When Gilbert became mayor in 1948, the population of the suburb northwest of Denver was 3,000. Today it is nearly 108,000.

Gilbert is credited with successfully negotiating the Moffat Tunnel water contract between Arvada and Denver.

"Arvada's water future was guaranteed," Fellman said.

He also is recognized for his efforts working with other city mayors. "He believed strongly in working on regional issues," Fellman said.

Gilbert was divorced from his first wife, Josie, and later married Florence "Flo" Moore.

Josie died last September, also at 90, Jim Gilbert said.

Doc and Flo each brought eight children and 23 grandchildren to their union
"Doc" Gilbert, left
when they married in 1980, according to an article written about the couple that appeared in The Denver Post Magazine in 1993.

In the mid-1960s, Gilbert spent two years in the Peace Corps in Venezuela, where he learned Spanish, and in the early 1970s, he taught veterinary surgery for an additional two years in Nairobi, Kenya.

While Doc and Flo lived in Mexico for about 15 years, they kept in touch with friends, family and strangers with a newsletter called the Cuernavaca Calling.

It detailed their experiences in Mexico, including paying only $213 a year for medical coverage and the time Doc received a free prostate operation from a skilled Mexican doctor.

"From the beginning we got into the Mexican culture more than the
"Doc" Gilbert, left, goes skydiving at age 88. (Gilbert family photographs)
gringo community," Doc was quoted in The Post magazine as saying.

Gilbert also was preceded in death by his wife, Flo, in 2006. He is survived by the eight children from his first marriage, 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

There will be a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 8, at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Denver. That's 2626 E. 7th Avenue Pkwy.

Annette Espinoza: 303-954-1655 or aespinoza@denverpost.com




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Story Source: Denver Post

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