The one thing that immediately comes to Jeffrey Gilbert’s mind about his father is the word “service.”
“My father believed in serving others,” said the younger Gilbert.
The Rev. Shedrick Gilbert, retired deacon at St. Agnes Episcopal Church in Overtown, died Saturday at age 91 in the town he has served for a lifetime.
Born and raised in Overtown, Gilbert graduated from Booker T. Washington High School at the age of 15 and served in the U. S. Army during World War II as a sergeant.
“He was a patriot,” his son said. “That word is so overused today but he was stalwart and a patriot.”
After his discharge, he married Wilma Jacqueline Wake, with whom Gilbert would raise three children in Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood. Gilbert went on to graduate with honors in 1954 from Hampton Institute in Virginia with a bachelor’s in industrial education.
He worked worked for 30 years as a letter carrier for the U. S. Postal Service and also was a licensed plumber. He joined St. Agnes in 1955 and was ordained as a deacon in the Diocese of Southeast Florida in 1984. He served in that capacity until his retirement in June 2012 on his 90th birthday.
“My father was a leader in our family but he was a father figure to so many, his reach was far and wide,” said the younger Gilbert, senior security director for the Latin American division of Pepsico. “He was a humble spirit but razor-focused to getting a task done. I was lucky, not only that I had a father, but I had a mentor that, for my life, he impacted tremendously. I could not have done anything I’ve done without him and his guidance and his prayers.”
Daughter Janelle Hall champions her father’s work in the Overtown community where he led an eight-week summer camp program.
“He was able to train the youth as counselors to advocate for the community during the summer and taught reading and other skills to young people in Overtown. That was a good program,” she said.
Gilbert also maintained a relationship with his old school. He was president of the Booker T. Washington Class of 1938 and was presented with an Unsung Hero award in 2012 from the school’s alumni association. He won a Man of the Year award from the philanthropic volunteer organization, King of Clubs of Greater Miami for his community service.
“Rev. Gilbert was truly one of a kind,” wrote Lemuel Moncur on St. Agnes’ Facebook page. “He will be greatly missed. He had a profound effect on everyone who knew him.”
Gilbert is survived by his wife Wilma, children Janelle Hall, Stephen Gilbert, Jeffrey Gilbert and nine grandchildren. There will be a service for Gilbert at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Agnes Episcopal Church, 1750 NW 3rd Ave., Miami.