Ronald Wilson Gilbert died on September 17, 2017. Ron was born on May 28, 1935 in Fort Smith to Flora Ellen (Hawkins) and James William Gilbert. He was his parents’ pride and joy, as he was born 18 years after they lost his older brother, Lonnie Cletus, as an infant. He spent his childhood in Sallisaw, where his first job was popping popcorn at the local movie theater (a skill that would serve him well later in life when he popped popcorn for events at the Coleman Theater). He graduated from Sallisaw High School and Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, obtaining a BS in biology and a minor in music. He attended dental school at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, where he met the love of his life, Ann Dunkin of Kingsport, Tenn. at the Methodist Student Union. They were married in 1958 and returned to Oklahoma. He practiced dentistry for 52 years for the Oklahoma Department of Health and in private practice in Miami.
Ron and Ann moved to Miami in 1960 committed to service to the community and their church. Professionally, Ron was active in the Oklahoma Dental Association and served on the Board of Directors of Delta Dental Insurance Company. He loved being a part of the Miami community. He served on the Miami Board of Education (President) and was a member of Rotary International (President, Secretary, Treasurer), Jaycees (President), Miami Library Board (Chairman), Friends of the Coleman Theater (Board of Directors), Ottawa County Historical Society (Board of Directors), Oklahoma Junior Miss, Inc. (Chairman) and the Miami Recreation Tourism Convention and Visitors’ Advisory Board. He was often called the “Grandfather of Tourism” as he spearheaded the drive for Miami’s first hotel tax to support tourism. Ron was co-chairman (with his good friend, Willie Osborn) of the 100th anniversary celebration of Miami. Ron was honored by many of the organizations and groups in which he has been active, including being named Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow, being chosen as one of Jaycee’s Ten Outstanding Young Oklahomans, and with the Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Impact Award.
Ron particularly loved serving the United Methodist Church. He held most positions in the First United Methodist Church in Miami, sang in the chancel choir, and was a substitute organist. He was a delegate to South Central Jurisdictional and General Conference many times and served as Chairman of the Oklahoma Conference Board of Finance and Administration. He was a member of the General Conference Board of Finance and Administration, serving as Chairman of the Investment Committee. He especially enjoyed serving on the Board of Directors of Mount Sequoyah Retreat Center in Fayetteville Ark.
Ron is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ann; his children, Ron Gilbert II (Jean Ann), Kabeth Jarvis (David), Karen Ramsey (Paul) and Kelley Loud (Jeff); his grandchildren Emily Kearney (Rob), Amanda Hagelin (Kyle), Sara Bailin (Bryan), Wil Ramsey, Claire Jarvis, Jack Ramsey, Aaron Loud, Allison Ramsey, Carter Loud and Duncan Loud; his great grandchildren Trae Kearney, Teaghan Kearney and Kennedy Hagelin; and a host of extended family and friends, including his beloved Lotsa Family.
The family will be receiving visitors at the First United Methodist Church of Miami on Friday, September 22nd from 5 to 7 p.m. A celebration of Ron’s life will be held at the church on Saturday, September 23rd at 1 p.m. Services are under the care of Brown-Winters Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Miami. In lieu of flowers, the family would suggest donations to the First United Methodist Church of Miami or a charity you believe will better our world.
Friends and family may send the family notes of encouragement by viewing Dr. Gilbert’s Tribute Page at www.brown-winters.com.