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Elmer Eugene Gilbert Sr.

Aug. 21, 1921 — July 29, 2014

NATCHEZ — Services for Elmer Eugene Gilbert Sr., 92, of Vidalia, who died Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at his residence, will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Laird Funeral Home with the Rev. Joseph Xavier, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church officiating.

Burial will follow Natchez City Cemetery under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today at the funeral home with the Rosary service at 7:30 p.m and from 10 a.m. until service time Friday at the church.

Mr. Gilbert was born Aug. 21, 1921, in Smithland, Ky., the son of Robert F. Gilbert and Docia Jane Gillison Gilbert.

He owned and operated a series of C & G Grocery Stores in Natchez and Vidalia, before retiring at age 62.

He was a boatswain’s mate 2c in the U.S. Navy and a WWII veteran, serving in the Asiatic Pacific Campaign, the American Area Campaign and the Philippine Liberation Campaign on the USS Bedford Victory, which was a cargo ship carrying ammunition. He was a crane operator on the vessel.

He was the first governor of Natchez Loyal Order of Moose Lodge.

After his retirement, he operated The Nut House on his property, buying, selling and cracking pecans.

Gardening and fishing were his hobbies. His tomatoes were the talk of the town and everyone enjoyed his fried catfish, caught on trot lines in the Mississippi River.

He loved to cook for family and friends, especially roasts, fried fish, hush puppies and french fries, and he did so in his backyard kitchen. On weekends, the family enjoyed their camp at Deer Park and later on at Lake St. John.

He converted to Catholicism late in life, and he and his wife, Gilda, enjoyed visits from the pastors at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Vidalia.

His great joy in life was hosting a regular poker game with a group of friends who came over twice a week for more than 20 years. He played with them until two months ago.

He and his family arrived in Natchez in the late 1920s by floating down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers on a flat boat. His father had been hired to manage a cattle ranch on Giles Island.

As a high school student, he won a writing award in 1941 for his autobiography from Scholastic, a national high school weekly paper. He wrote about that raft trip, living on Giles Island, and how he and his brothers managed to get to school in Natchez, nine miles away. He graduated from Natchez High School.

Mr. Gilbert was preceded in death by his wife, Gilda Marie Murphy Gilbert; his parents; his step-father, Leroy “Red” Nottingham; and three brothers, Willard, Frank and Luther Gilbert.

Survivors include four sons, E. Eugene Gilbert Jr. and wife, Ann, of Folsom, John Gilbert of Knoxville, Tenn., Kenneth Gilbert of Baton Rouge and Casey Gilbert and wife, Darlene, of Vidalia; two daughters, Linda Gilbert Reeves of Boynton Beach, Fla. and Carol Ann Gilbert Foote and husband, David, of Ludington, Mich.; eight grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; one brother, Lee Nottingham and wife, Wendy, of Hazelhurst; two sisters-in-law, Margie Johnson Gilbert and Johnnie Ann Murphy Hinson and husband, James.

Pallbearers will be Sidney Johnson, Tommy Reid, Lloyd Gilbert, James Hinson, Evan Gilbert, Joey Gilbert, David Foote and Brent Miller.

Honorary pallbearer will be Richard Gerald.

The Gilbert family would like to thank Caring Hearts Hospice, especially manager, Mary Book and Mary Ann Clark and three family friends who helped to care for Mr. Gilbert, sisters, Cheryl and Denise Knapik and Tracey Wilson, and special friends, Rosa Warner and Amelia Floyd.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to Caring Heart Hospice or Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Vidalia or a charity of your choice.

Online condolences may be made to lairdfh.com.