Chandler Wright Gilbert (1926 - 2018)

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    - The Cournoyer Family
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Service Information
Cournoyer Funeral Home & Cremation Center
33 River Street
Jaffrey, NH
Thursday, Jun. 7, 2018
2:00 PM
Jaffrey Meetinghouse on the Common
Jaffrey Center, MA
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PETERBOROUGH -- Chandler Wright Gilbert was born on September 18, 1926 on the Tuck-Wo, a British river steamer making its way up the Yangtze River through war-torn China. Henceforth, he was known by all as "Tuck." He died on May 15, 2018 in Peterborough with the same grace and beauty with which he lived his 91 years. His wife, Bobbie, traveled most of that journey with him in their 65 years of marriage. She was, to the end, his beloved, the deepest sort of friend, a colleague in numerous ministries and community engagements, and tender caregiver in recent months as his health declined.

Tuck spent most of his first 14 years in north China, the eldest of four children born to Lewis Gilbert and Lois Chandler Gilbert, missionaries with the Congregational American Board for Foreign Missions. China was deep in his bones: the dusty plains of Shantung, the seaside resort of Peithaho where his family spent magical months each summer, the world of the missionary community, the constant intersection of his life with people from all over the world, and the sense of belonging neither entirely to China nor to the United States. Throughout his life, he saw himself more as a citizen of the world then of one particular country.

After his family was evacuated from China in 1940 as tensions between the U.S. and Japan mounted, Tuck had his first experience of an American public education at Newton High School in the Boston area but found his place of belonging when he attended Oberlin College, graduating in 1947. His decision to enter the ministry led him to Yale Divinity School for his Master of Divinity degree. These experiences were foundational to his professional life, his outlook on the world, and to many of the relationships with which he was blessed over the years.

Tuck loved well and was well-loved by a wide circle of people. First and foremost, there was Bobbie. Together, Tuck and Bobbie had three children: Ann, Jane, and Mark. Mark died of cystic fibrosis at the age of 20 and remained a constant presence of joy and sorrow in Tuck's being. He cherished his sons in-law, Dan and David and his three grandchildren, David, Noah, and Annalie. Using their initials, he liked to think of them as DNA, the true stuff of life. Tuck's siblings, Dorie, Mariel, and Alan also became dear friends throughout his life. Gatherings with their families, as well as members of Bobbie's family, were filled with laughter, storytelling, song, and conversation. Beyond family, Tuck was friend, mentor, and minister to innumerable others. He had a remarkable presence with people that frequently left them knowing that they had been truly seen and valued. He also let himself be seen. Many of us will remember the ready laugh and sense of humor that were often a part of conversation with him.

Professionally, Tuck served as a parish minister in the United Church of Christ for 38 years. His first seven years of ministry were in Ohio, beginning in a new-start church on the outskirts of Toledo and then in a large downtown church in Akron as an Associate Minister. His call to serve as Senior Minister at the First Congregational Church in Westfield, Massachusetts took Tuck back to New England, the region where his family had deep roots and where he made home for the remainder of his life. After 13 years in Westfield, he accepted a call as Senior Minister to the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord, Massachusetts where he served for 18 years. He was constantly stretching himself into new skills and understanding including being certified, along with Bobbie, as a Trainer for the Association of Couples for Marriage Enrichment and earning a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling at Andover Newton Theological School. He brought many gifts to his ministry. In his sermons he took risks by speaking to the issues of the day such as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the changing roles of women. But he also spoke to the joys and sorrows of people's ordinary lives. He was honest about his questions, inviting people to join with him in and through those uncertainties and was not afraid of the words "I don't know." Tuck was personally acquainted with the landscapes of grief, self-doubt, and discouragement; these became part of the wisdom and compassion he brought so beautifully to pastoral care.

In 1988, Tuck and Bobbie retired from parish ministry and moved to Jaffrey which became a cherished home for them during the next 30 years. They delighted in the beauty of their peaceful lane at the foot of Mt. Monadnock and the changed pace, even as they continued other forms of work and activity. For the first time, Tuck was able to be an active member of his local church without being in the role of minister. Among other things, Bobbie and Tuck led Marriage Enrichment events throughout New England, played a major role in the founding of Monadnock at Home, and provided a retreat space for clergy in their home.

Tuck found replenishment in camping, hiking, sailing, canoeing, and sports with family and friends alike. He was an avid reader, relishing fiction, history, poetry, and books that opened him to new ideas. He was a lover of words, finding great satisfaction in writing, including two books of essays. During his years in Jaffrey, photography became an important lens on the world, helping him to appreciate in new ways the miraculous and sacred details of the beauty around him.

As his aging made some of these activities no longer possible, he learned to focus on the things he could do rather than the ones he couldn't. He did a magnificent job of reconciling himself to the changes that came with aging. He came to love stillness in a new way, finding in it a space to nourish and deepen his inner life. He continued to bring his lifelong curiosity to this new stage of life and the process of dying.

Tuck and Bobbie's move to RiverMead in Peterborough in March 2017, enabled them to focus on what was most important to them and between them.

A service of thanksgiving for Tuck's life will be held on June 7, 2018, 2 p.m. at the Jaffrey Center Meetinghouse, 22 Blackberry Lane, Jaffrey, NH. Additional information as well as a way to send comments to Tuck's family is available at:

In lieu of flowers, Tuck's wish was that memorial gifts be made to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation (in honor of Tuck's grandson, Noah), 3 Columbus Circle, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019 ( or to First Church in Jaffrey, 14 Laban Ainsworth Way, Jaffrey, NH 03452

This obituary was written by Tuck's daughters Ann and Jane.

Published in The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript on May 22, 2018
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