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John Joseph "Jack" Gilbert


1943 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
John Joseph "Jack" Gilbert Obituary

Rio Oso resident Jack Gilbert was born February 11, 1943 and died suddenly August 25, 2016.

Jack's father, William Gilbert Sr., originally from England, began farming in Rio Oso in 1916, growing peaches, almonds and some of the first walnuts in the area. Jack's mother, Anna, was instrumental in the farm operations and Jack, along with his siblings, helped on the ranch from childhood.

Jack graduated from Browns Elementary and East Nicolaus High and received a Bachelors of Science in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1964.

During college recesses, he worked designing packaging systems for Bercut-Richards. After college and a short stint in the Air Force, Jack worked as a marine engineer doing aircraft carrier propulsion design for the Department of the Navy. Then an opportunity arose for a marine engineer position at Westinghouse, after which followed a position at Marcona Corporation (the shipping subdivision of Utah Construction). Jack held patents for his work at those companies. While at Marcona, Jack continued his education at night toward an MBA at Santa Clara University.

In 1969, Jack married his high school sweetheart, Sandra Jensen. Their two sons, Henry and Jack Jr., arrived in the early '70s. While working at Marcona, Jack first purchased Rio Oso acreage in 1970. As more property was acquired, Jack was financially able to move his family to Rio Oso in 1976. Besides walnuts, he grew seed crops, grain crops and pistachios on the ranches.

Jack served on a number of local, state and national boards, including Diamond Walnut. Jack became Chairman of the Board in 1996. In 2005, the company went from a grower cooperative to publicly traded Diamond Foods where Jack remained chairman until his retirement. Jack has also served as Chairman of the California Walnut Commission and the California Walnut Marketing Board and was a board member of the Western Pistachio Growers.

At the time of his death, Jack was the long-standing President of Gilbert Orchards, Rio Oso Groves and Dry Creek Mutual Water Company; was Chairman of the Government Relations Committee of the California Walnut Commission and was serving on the boards of two local levee districts. Previously, he served on the boards of the South Sutter Water District and Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau. Jack enjoyed his community and especially memberships in the Wheatland Historical Society and the Wheatland Supper Club. An experienced pilot, he was a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Besides his wife, Sandra, Jack is survived by his sons Dr. William Henry Gilbert (Socorro), John "Jack" Gilbert Jr. (Mariana), his grandchildren Olivia, Alexus, Jazmin, Cora and Rico, sister Ann Getty (Gordon), brother William "Bill" Gilbert (Nancy), brother-in-law Steve Jensen (Jill) and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

The family wishes to invite friends to a celebration of Jack's life at Gilbert Orchards, 4446 Wheatland Road, Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. If you wish, donations to the Wheatland Historical Society would be received with appreciation (P.O. Box 164, Wheatland, 95692).

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Published in Appeal Democrat from Oct. 30 to Nov. 6, 2016
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