David Gilbert

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David E. Gilbert of Joseph, former president of Eastern Oregon University, died Feb. 27, 2012, at age 72 of complications from a stroke.

He was born to Erwin Azel Gilbert and Hester Virginia Almond Gilbert in Fresno, Calif., the oldest of three children.

He grew up on family-owned ranches at Martinez, Bethel Island and Sacramento in California. He graduated in 1957 from Folsom High School, where he met Carolyn Faye Parker. They were married on June 24, 1960.

Dave graduated from University of California at Berkeley in 1962 with a bachelor of arts degree with a major in physics and from University of Oregon in 1964 with a master of arts, earning a doctor of philosophy degree from the U of O in 1968.

He worked at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande for 30 years, starting in 1968 as professor of physics. He became dean of academic affairs in 1977 and served as the university’s president from 1983 to 1998. After he retired in 1998, the Gilberts moved to Joseph.

Academic research credentials included serving as a research scientist in astrophysics in 1975-76 for the Department of Fundamental Astrophysics from the Observatory of Paris in France and being visiting researcher from 1976-83.

Dave had been a member of many state-level boards during his career. They included being chair of Oregon Board of Forestry and a member of the Oregon Ed-Net board of directors, Oregon Public Broadcasting Commission, Oregon Telecommunications Forum Council, American Association of State Colleges and University and Super conducting Super Collider Task Force. He also acted as Advisor to the Governor on Virtual University.

In Union County he was active on the Airport Commission, Economic Development Corp., Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Oregon Regional Arts Council and many other committees and organizations.

Among numerous awards, he was the recipient of the La Grande Man of the Year in 1991 and received the Centennial Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service to Nursing in April 2011.

Dave’s wide-ranging interests included amateur radio, fishing, fly tying, flying, electronics, photography, woodworking, astrometry, genealogy, art, computers, reading and colonial history.

He loved to travel and visited many countries, taking thousands of photographs.

Dave enjoyed his family, holidays and visits with his family, special nights on the hammock with his granddaughter talking about space and woodworking projects with his grandson.

Survivors include wife Carolyn Gilbert of Joseph; son, Ron Gilbert of San Mateo, Calif.; daughter and son-in-law Joan and Rob Madsen of Enterprise; two grandchildren; sister Carol Howell; sister and brother-in-law Nancy and George Postlethwait, brothers- and sister-in-law Albert Parker and Darell and JoLea Parker; nieces, nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brother-in-law Keith Howell, sister-in-law Kathy Parker and nephew Brian Postlethwait.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Gilbert Scholarship Fund, Eastern Oregon University, 1 University Blvd., La Grande, OR 97850.

A Celebration of Life will be planned for this summer.

To plant a tree in memory of David Gilbert as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

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