GREAT FALLS John Millard Gilbert, 52, died at the Benefis East Medical Center in Great Falls from complications of a stroke on Wednesday evening, Dec. 13, 2006.
A vigil prayer service will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Rockman Funeral Chapel in Chester. The funeral Mass will be held at noon Tuesday at St. Ann’s Cathedral, 715 Third Ave. N. in Great Falls. A graveside service with military rites will be held at 2:30 p. m. Tuesday at the Stanford Cemetery. John was born in Havre on Feb. 27, 1954, to Kenneth and Betty (Fitzsimmons) Gilbert. He grew up in the Chester community and received his education there, graduating from Chester High School in 1973. John continued his schooling for a short time at the Missoula Votech, where he studied forestry. In 1974, he enlisted into the U. S.Army. He spent most of his three-year stint in Germany. After receiving his honorable discharge in 1976, he returned to Montana. In 1977 John and an old school buddy, Kent Matkin, built a new NAPA store in Stanford. They worked as partners in this venture until 1979, when John bought out Kent’s interest in the store. John continued to own and operate this NAPA dealership until 1995, then he sold the business. In 1997, he moved to Great Falls, where he worked in retail sales. John also lived in Rigby, Idaho, for two years, then moved back to Great Falls where he was currently employed at Home Depot. John suffered a stroke on Nov. 20 and remained hospitalized until his death. John married Barb Henga in Stanford. They had two sons before their marriage ended in divorce. During his life in Stanford, John helped coach the Little Leaguers. He was also a member of Stanford American Legion Post No. 53. After moving to Great Falls, John enjoyed volunteer work at Benefis Hospital. He recently became active at St. Ann’s Church, where he experienced a spiritual uplifting at a retreat. Consequently, many of his recent readings and studies pertained to the Bible. John’s favorite hobbies were fishing and hunting. He also enjoyed spectator sports, like Nascar, basketball, wrestling and football his favorite team was the Montana Grizzlies. He enjoyed cooking, especially holiday turkeys. Basically, John was a simple man who enjoyed the simple things in life. He loved to be with people and was well-liked by people, so he established many special friendships over the years. Survivors include his sons, Calvin Gilbert of Great Falls and Kevin Gilbert, a student at MSU Northern in Havre; parents, Kenneth and Betty Gilbert of Chester; sisters, Karen (Dave) Mattson of Chester and Keila Gilbert of Ottoville, Pa.; brother, Jim (Jeri) Gilbert of Sylvania, Ohio; five nephews; four nieces; and several uncles, aunts and cousins. Memorials may be given to the Stanford Little League program, the Benefis Hospital Volunteer program, or the Hi- Line Health Foundation in Chester. Arrangements are by Rockman Funeral Chapel in Chester.