June 2, 1924 - May 17, 2020
Edgerton, WI -- Donald Laurance Gilbert, 95, of Edgerton, WI, passed away on Sunday, May 17, 2020 at Agrace Hospice and Palliative Care, Janesville. Don was born on July 2, 1924 in Rio, WI, to the late Laurance and Dorothy (Swenson) Gilbert. Don graduated from Rio High School with the Class of 1942.
Don proudly served in World War II in the Army Air Corps as Corporal from 1943-1945. Don completed pre-combat training in Maryland, and shipped out of Muroc, CA with the 456th Bomb Group. More than a month aboard troopships, the group landed in Italy during a cold, rainy season. They crossed mountains, and built camp and runways to accommodate our Air Force of Liberator planes. He served 16 months of combat operations in the Mediterranean, whose group completed over 200 missions over 11 countries. Aerial warfare took out key targets such as oil refineries, aircraft factories, railroad bridges, depots and yards, motor transports and more, leaving our enemy without materials to fight with and allowing our ground forces to progress through to Austria.
After the war, Don married Audrey Natvig on June 12, 1948. After her death in 1992, Don found love again, and married Judith Bailey Hoffman on November 8, 1997. He worked over 40 years at General Motors as an Assembler and Inspector, starting there soon after the war when it was still known as Fisher Body and Chevrolet. Don and Audrey built their home and raised their family in Edgerton, where Don was a longtime member of Central Lutheran Church, and was a member of the choir for 50 years. Don's strong tenor voice was heard almost every Sunday, and will most be remembered and admired for singing solos. Don loved to travel, and treated his wives and family to many road trips to visit family and friends across the nation. Favorite trips included Michigan, Northern Wisconsin, Florida, Colorado, California, Arizona, Texas, Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas and Hawaii. Don loved his family, and was a good father, and enjoyed his many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He loved settling in his favorite chair each weekend, watching college and national football and baseball, and was a Packers, Badgers and Brewers fan. Don liked to go fishing and loved to work on his lawn.
Don is survived by his children: Beverly Bussey of Edgerton, Bonnie Thompson (Bill Davis) of Beloit, WI, Bradley Gilbert of Mt. Horeb, WI, Barbara (Dominic) Gorniak of Johnson Creek, WI; step-children: Kurt (Kathy) Hoffman, Keith Hoffman, Holly (Daryl) Fox; grandchildren: Thomas (Carlos Ramirez) Bussey, Laura (Ben) Kaker, Brandy (Matt) Young, Lance Thompson, Shyanne (Nick) Siefkas, Ben Gilbert, Tanner (Katie) Gilbert, Nicole (Nick) Beavers, Dominic Gorniak Jr.; great-grandchildren: Owen and Dylan Kaker, Lincoln, Josephine, and Wesley Beavers, Kaylynn Galbercht, Franklin Young, Macy Young; step-grandchildren: Eric (Cindy Hoffman) Leah (Michael) Mitchell, Joel (Jessica Ratino) Hoffman, Paige Hoffman, Brett Hoffman, Ryan (Kate Ludwig) Fox, Kelly (Andrew Byrnes) Fox, Christian (Erin Kautz) Fox, Ethan (Ellen Converse) Fox, Nolan Fox, Sylvia Fox, Vincent Fox; step-great grandson: Elliot Hoffman; brother, Robert Gilbert (Frenda, deceased); sister-in-law, Nancy Gilbert (James, deceased); and many nieces; nephews; and friends. He was preceded by his parents; his two wives, Audrey Gilbert and Judith Gilbert; brother, James Gilbert; sister, Marion Natvig (Wendall, deceased).
Private family services will be held at Milton Lawns Memorial Park, Janesville. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Family asks that, in lieu of flowers, please send any donations to Agrace HospiceCare. Albrecht Funeral Homes & Cremation Services, Edgerton are assisting the family with arrangements.
A special "thank you" to the staff of Agrace Hospice and Palliative Care for their kindness, caring and respect shown.