OBITUARY

Robert Wallace Gilbert

February 20, 1931January 2, 2021
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Robert Wallace Gilbert, known to all as Bobby, was 89 years young when he went home to be with the Lord on Saturday January 2, 2021 at 3:45 in the morning. He passed peacefully at home with his adoring family and will be greeted in Heaven by parents Sam and Hazel Gilbert, grandparents Oran and Selma Mahaffey, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a lifetime of friends who precede him. Bobby was born in Houston on February 20, 1931 and raised in the Heights on Watson Street, where every house on the block lived his close family. His grandparents owned the general store and gas station across the street where he worked after school. Weekends, he worked as a shoeshine and paper boy, proudly tithing from his earnings every Sunday at church. He was a big fan of Rice University football and Houston Buff’s baseball. Known as “Pongo” in his days as an athlete at Reagan High School and Baylor University, Bobby excelled in baseball, volleyball, tennis, and basketball. When NBC aired their first program in 1948, “The Texaco Star Theater”, the Reagan HS basketball game would be shown using empty air time at the show’s conclusion, making the handsome 6’2” blonde Center, Pongo, as big a star in Houston as the show’s host, Milton Berle. His Freshman year, with a moderate GPA at Baylor, Bobby was drafted to serve the US Army as an E4 Corporal- Combat Engineer during the Korean War until the war ended in armistice. Honorably discharged, he returned to Baylor and as you may have guessed, easily managed straight A’s.

Putting his business degree to work, Bobby opened the very first USA coed gymnasium in Memphis, TN with a close friend. He loved physical fitness work outs and trained many Hollywood celebrities to get in shape for movie roles. He loved to laugh and tells one story of convincing Ted Cassidy (Lurch from the Addams Family) to go to Hollywood - that with his size and strange appearance he would surely become a big star. Not one to sell memberships, eventually Bobby left the business to his partner who later became the CEO of President and First Lady, which eventually sold to Bally’s!

Back in Houston in 1963, Bobby met Barbara Slater at Fitzgerald’s in the Heights, then a dancehall and diner called The Polish Home. They married and had three children, raising them together in Clear Lake City. Bobby loved being a dad more than any other job he would ever have.

His smile would light up a room and Bobby’s love of life was most apparent on the dance floor, especially while dancing the Whip. He had all the right moves and could make any partner feel like a dancing queen.

Blessed with love a second time in 1992, Bobby met a spirited Irish nurse and missionary, as well as former Mother Superior in the Catholic Church, Bridget Marie Kenneally. After a five-year courtship, the two married at Timber Grove Baptist Church. One of his favorite musings was that Marie had been married only to him and Jesus, as he would tell anyone that listened. They loved to travel together, many of those trips to Marie’s homeland where Bobby was embraced, loved, and held in high esteem by all in her family. He was a friend, mentor, and brother to each. They loved imitating his Texas drawl and found him "a fierce, interesting, and very smart man”. Bobby loved the Lord and through sharing his faith he brought many souls to Christ. He was proud to be a role model to his children, Sunday school teacher, Outreach and witness minister, and leader of the Royal Ambassadors in his church. Bobby served as Superintendent of Real Estate for the City of Houston under five Mayors to retirement and then worked for and retired with Houston Metro Transit. Later he was recruited as a consultant for the then-secret Supercollider project in Waxahachie, TX. Rejoicing in his Ascension and sad only for ourselves left behind, are wife Marie Gilbert, children Tracy Perri, Sam Gilbert with girlfriend Kathy Payne, Kelly Gilbert with spouse Michelle Dean, grandchildren, Kyle and Julia Perri, Ashley, Kyle and Devyn Dean, sisters Judy Beall and Linda Gibson, their children and grandchildren, and his extended family in Ireland. We will all continue to dance in his honor!

Services

  • Visitation

    Thursday, January 14, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Friday, January 15, 2021

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  • Committal Service

    Friday, January 15, 2021

Memories

Robert Wallace Gilbert

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James Neal

January 14, 2021

A GOOD FRIEND AND GREAT MAN. SAD TO SEE MY GOOD FRIEND LEAVE US. BOBBY AND I WORKED TOGETHER AT THE CITY OF HOUSTON REAL ESTATE DEPARTMENT FOR SEVERAL YEARS MY FIRST CAREER JOB BEGINNING IN 1972. HE WAS MY FIRST SUPERVISOR AT THE CITY AND HELPED TAIN ME IN MY EARLY YEARS. A FEW YEARS BEFORE I ENTERED THE CITY WORKFORCE BOBBY AND MY OLDER BROTHER SINCE DECEASED, WORKED TOGETHER IN THE 60'S SAME REAL ESTATE DEPARTMENT. MY FAMILY KNEW BOBBY FOR MANY YEARS. BOBBY AND I FROM TIME TO TIME IN MY EARLY YEARS WOULD DISCUSS THE LORD BOB KNEW THE BIBLE. ONE TIME IN THE MID 70'S WE MINISTERED TO THE HOMELESS FROM A FOOD MISSION IN DOWNTOWN HOUSTON, THAT WAS A LIFE EXPERIENCE. HE CARED ABOUT PEOPLE. HE HELPED ME IN MY EARLY LIFE BY TELLING ME ABOVE HIS FAITH IN CHIRST AND IT BROUGHT ME BACK TO MY CHURCH, WHAT A FRIEND. BOB WORK HARD IN HEAVEN, I WII SEE YOU IN THE FUTURE . JAMES NEAL

Anthony & Marie Kenneally & family

January 12, 2021

Bobby it was a pleasure and a blessing to have known you and to share some great times with you and Marie over the years. I cherish the memories we all have of you and the particular genuine close friendship I always had with you. You will always remain to me, the coolest man in America. I thank god for having you as an uncle. Yourself and Marie were very lucky to have found each other and I know you always made her very happy. I have absolutely no doubt you are in eternal heaven and may you be in glorious peace until we meet again. Love you always, your nephew Anthony & Marie & the rest of the family.

Amy Rubino

January 8, 2021

Your family has always held a special place in my heart. I know how much you care and love each other. Continue to share the Light and God’s blessings will always follow you.
Much love, Amy Rubino

Margaret Barkey

January 7, 2021

May Marie and all Bobby's family find comfort and peace as they recall the life and legacy he left on this earth. Now he has joined his family in Heaven and his spirit remain with you and with all who know him and are dear to him. He will keep a watchful eye on all of us.......Enjoy the joy of your Eternal home Bobby where your sufferings are no more.........Ever near............With my sympathy and care....Margaret

Peter Beaupre

January 6, 2021

My condolences to the Gilbert family. I grew up with Sam and I had met Mr Robert Gilbert when I was a teen. Wish you and your family the best in these trying times.

Debra Dancy

January 6, 2021

Praying for you Marie and the family. I know how much you loved Mr. Bobby.

Cindy Cuellar

January 6, 2021

So sorry for your loss. I know how difficult it is to lose a parent. Keeping the family in my prayers. God bless.

Nancy James

January 6, 2021

My prayers and condolences to the family.

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