Anthony F. Gilbert (“Tony,” or “Dad”), age 71 years of Niles, Michigan, died at 12:15am on Friday September 15, 2023, following a fierce and determined battle with cancer. Tony was a beloved husband, father, grandpa, and brother; accomplished electrician, entrepreneur, and outdoorsman; and follower of Christ.
He was born on February 10, 1952 to Donald A. and Anne H. (Frucci) Gilbert. He graduated from Niles High School and furthered his education at Southwestern Michigan College, where he pursued a career as an electrician. Tony began his career at Burdue Electric, Inc. in Niles, and later joined the United Auto Workers’ Union, performing critical electrical maintenance work and machine due diligence for General Motors in Three Rivers, Michigan. Tony eventually retired from the auto industry and worked at the Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant before founding a full-service electrical company, Michiana Electrical Services, LLC, which he continued to operate until he recently passed operations on to his son.
Dad was an active and influential member of the Community Church on U.S.12 near Edwardsburg where he served as a deacon, filled a crucial role as interim leader of the youth program, and lent his expertise to maintain and improve the building. Most importantly, he was a steadfast member of his faith community. Dad had an enormous heart for youth and an open door to anyone who needed respite, a listening ear, warm meal, or just a place to crash. He was a good and gracious father, exhibiting grace in all the antics and situation in which his children found themselves.
Tony enjoyed the outdoors working tirelessly on endless projects that kept him active and vibrant well into his later years .He loved working with his hands- a talent that culminated in his building of a family home in 1999. In his youth, he enjoyed fishing on the Saint Joseph River where it passes through Berrien Springs. He hunted and taught his children to hunt in the acres around his home, and brought up his children and grandchildren safe and proficient marksmanship, as well as a compassionate and responsible approach to hunting and sportsmanship. Dad maintained a large vegetable garden when his children were young. Despite recent health challenges, he revived the garden in summer 2023 and enjoyed working in it on even the hottest summer days, well into his final weeks. He had an infectious and unrelenting sense of humor, possessing the capacity to infuse laughter into nearly every situation.
Tony maintained a vast inner musical catalogue, drawn largely from classic rock’s golden years, and he could find an obscure song reference for nearly every circumstance.
On Saturday, October 15, 1977 in the former Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles (now Redeemer Church) Dad married Connie Regina “Jeanie” Whitworth, with whom he recently celebrated forty-five years of marriage. Even in his final weeks, he implored his children to “take care of their mother” and expressed an incredible sense of duty for her future and well-being.
Dad embraced and embodied a deep sense of duty and responsibility to his family. He poured himself into all of us in the most sacrificial ways imaginable. Raising three boys and one girl, he withheld judgement and condemnation- only exhibiting love, acceptance, and an occasional sideways glance that let us know that he’d known us all along. Dad never said, “I told you so.” He didn’t have to, because we already knew. He was always right, more than any of us ever admitted.
Surviving family includes his wife, Jeanie and their children, Daniel (Heather) Gilbert of Little Canada, Minnesota, Mary Kirby of South Bend, Indiana, Nathan (Katie) Gilbert of Edwardsburg, and David (Meagan) Gilbert of Mishawaka, Indiana; grandchildren, Joshua, Lileyna, Lincoln, Quinn, and Thea; Tony’s sister, Mary (Robert) Neitzke of Carmel, Indiana, and several nieces and nephew.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Terry Gilbert, and Terry’s wife, Carolyn Gilbert.
The Memorial Service for Anthony Gilbert will be at 11:00 AM on Saturday, September 23, 2023 at the Community Church, 28647 U.S.12 West near Edwardsburg, Michigan with Pastor Dan Thomas officiating. Committal will be private at the Silverbrook Cemetery. Contributions in memory of Tony may be made to Community Church, Post Office Box 598, Edwardsburg, Michigan, 49112; https://edwardsburg.church/online-giving. Arrangements were completed at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles. Online memories may be left at:
Anthony Gilbert exuded an intense love of life and devotion to his family. He worked hard at his profession, but more importantly reflected a spirit of service and sacrifice in his personal life, and modeled an unyielding pursuit of the values and people he held most dearly. Tony embodied both a remarkable drive to succeed in all endeavors and an uncommon instinct to love unconditionally. His life was one of beautiful paradox, both a relentless fighter and irresistible peacemaker.
Most importantly, Anthony loved at such an incredible depth. And he was loved by all in his wide sphere of influence. Dad met people at every stage and status in their life, actively listening to their stories. He encouraged and admonished those closest to him daily, even into the last week of his life. He loved his family, especially Jeanie and his children, “more than you will ever know.”