Couple celebrates birthday, 60th anniversary at same time

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2001

Summer is usually a time for reunions, but one held Sunday afternoon at the Ramada Hilltop had a different twist.

Not only had more than 30 friends and relatives from all over the nation come to celebrate Elmer Gilbert’s 80th birthday, but they were also celebrating the 60th anniversary of him and his wife, Gilda.

Elmer Gilbert’s birthday is this month; his 60th anniversary was in June. When asked what their secret for a successful marriage has been, they both said the same thing, unprompted and with smiles:&160;&uot;A lot of give and take.&uot;

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&uot;I just love it,&uot; Elmer Gilbert said with pride as he gazed over a room filled with his family members and friends, many of whom stopped to give him and his wife hugs and pats on the back.

All six of his children and their spouses and children were there from as far away as Michigan and Florida.

Friends who were there included lifelong buddies as well as pals he has played poker with nearly every Friday night for 20 years.

The afternoon would include readings from Elmer Gilbert’s autobiography, written when he was a senior in high school, said his eldest son, Gene Gilbert.

Even at such an early age, Gilbert’s life had already been eventful. His family, while poor, still managed to refurbish an old boat and use it to travel down the Mississippi River to Natchez in 1926. His family later served as caretakers for a plantation on Giles Island.

The day would also include refreshments and the unveiling of a collage of pictures from the couple’s life together. But the best thing about the event, said many, was visiting with friends and relatives.

One of those friends was Al Buttross, who attended Sunday’s reunion and has been a friend of Gilbert’s for more than 55 years.

&uot;He’s a businessman, a planter, and a gentleman … and a great lifelong friend,&uot; he said.

For many years, Gilbert operated several C&G grocery stores in Natchez and Vidalia.

Now retired, Gilbert keeps busy by tending a garden full of tomatoes, cucumbers, snap beans, squash, corn and cantaloupes at his Vidalia home. He also fishes from a boat in the Mississippi River frequently, catching catfish on up to 100 hooks at a time.

But beyond his accomplishments, said daughter Carol Ann Foote, &uot;he’s just a special man, always there to help people. If someone needs him, he’s always there.&uot;