He was born June 23, 1951, in Texarkana, Arkansas, to Kathryn Francis Gillette and John Noble Gilbert. He spent the first few weeks of his life in Texarkana, where his father was stationed with the Army, before the family returned to Utah. John and Kathryn later divorced, and both remarried, Kathryn to Myron K. Berryman, and John to Esther Alice Henson (nee Roach). John G. was sealed to John N. and Esther in the Provo Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a young adult.
John grew up primarily in Tooele and graduated from Tooele High School in 1969. After high school, he attended the University of Utah, majoring in history, before leaving to serve a two-year mission in Hong Kong.
He married Catherine Geary in the Salt Lake Temple on Aug. 24, 1973, and they would go on to have six children. He was devoted to his family and worked hard every day of his life to provide for them.
In 1979, the family relocated to California, where John pursued a Mortuary Science Certificate at Cypress Community College, graduating in 1982. His career as a funeral director spanned nearly 40 years. Later, he earned a bachelor of arts in 2005, and a master of arts in 2008, both in history, from California State University, Bakersfield. Over the years, he and Cathy lived in Wyoming, Utah, California, Nevada, and Arizona before they retired to his hometown of Tooele. After retirement, he served a second mission at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.
In addition to his two missions, John served in many callings in the church, including High Priest group leader, Cubmaster, and ward membership clerk, and he was especially proud of his work as the ward financial clerk in the Tonopah Nevada Ward.
John had a tremendous love for the written word. He considered himself a “bibliophile” and collected hundreds of books in his lifetime. He also had a deep fascination with world history, and a particular fondness for the history and culture of Asia. He also indulged in many passion projects, which regularly awed and amazed his friends and family, such as beekeeping, playing the drums, rebuilding an antique player piano, constructing a large koi pond, raising peacocks, and various entrepreneurial ventures.
John is survived by his beloved wife Cathy of Tooele; daughter Jennifer (Mark) Woolsey of Bakersfield, California; sons John (Kristy) Gilbert of Tooele, Jaren (Kathryn) Gilbert of Bakersfield, Joshua (Jessie) Gilbert of West Jordan, and Jacob of Tooele; brothers James (Peggy) and Jerry (Marilyn) Henson; sisters Michele (Reid) Wagner, Jeanette Johnson, and Connie Richins; 21 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, and in-laws.
He was preceded in death by his parents John and Esther Gilbert and Kathryn and Myron Berryman, a daughter Jamie Lynn Gilbert, and brothers Stephen and David Henson.
Services will be held Thursday, Jan. 28, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Pinehurst Building in Tooele. Interment will be in the Tooele City Cemetery. The family thanks the Tooele Police and Fire Departments for their dedicated help and concern, and the University of Utah Burn Center for compassionate care during John’s final days.