Robert (Bob) Pettibone Gilbert Jr. died peacefully on September 17.
Bob was born on Valentine’s Day, 1944, in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. He spent happy summers in Pentwater, Michigan. He graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1962 and Dartmouth College, where he was a brother in the Sigma Nu fraternity, in 1966. He volunteered for military service and enlisted in the Army, but quickly made his way into Officer Candidate School and rose to become a First Lieutenant. He was honorably discharged after serving most of his tour in Germany, where he would meet the love of his life, Christina (Tina) O’Brien. He graduated from Columbia Business School and embarked on a long career in food marketing.
After stops with General Foods, Pillsbury, and International Multifoods, Bob formed a group that purchased Kaukauna Cheese in Little Chute, Wisconsin. Under his leadership, the company doubled in size and was acquired by Paris-based Fromagerie Bel in 1996. Bob then became president of Bel Brands USA. After teaching business for seven years at National Louis University, Bob and Christina retired to Savannah in 2016, where they attended St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Bob was ardent in his faith and his devotion to the Green Bay Packers and Chicago White Sox. He was preceded in death by his mother, Anne; his father, Robert, Sr.; and his sister, Betsy. He leaves behind his wife, Tina; his children, Katie and Cameron; his son-in-law, Charlie, and granddaughter, Tess; his sisters, Diane, Nancy, and Jane; and his brother, Clark.
Gifts in memory are gratefully accepted by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 3 West Ridge Road, Savannah, GA 31411, and the Dartmouth College Fund at http://dartmouthcollegefund.org.
A private service will be held in Michigan in the future.
There was so much to like about Bob. Self depreciation, a dry sense of humor, well read, exceeding bright, he loved his family and cheese and we can't forget Tilly. But, did Tilly ever love Bob and that says much about the man. Gone too soon, we can't fathom your loss. RIP Bob, our friend. Mark & Mitzi
- Mark & Mitzi Toth, Savannah , Ga
We have many fond memories of Bob -- as a business leader, as a runner and scuba diver, and as a fellow traveler to some wonderful destinations around the world. We hope you find comfort in all the good times and happiness you shared. The Gilbert family is in our thoughts and prayers.
- Gary & Susan Nehring, Side Lake, MN
I am very sorry on your loss. I served on IDDBA'S Board of Directors during the time that Bob led the organization on the Executive Committee. He was not only a leader but a teacher to many in our industry. He didn't just teach about business but about life, and integrity. Bob always saw the big picture and helped others to look for it too. The Dairy, Deli and Bakery Industry will miss this leader. He was truly special.
- Michael J Eardley, MADISON, WI
Thank you , Bob, for a life well lived. You've left a void for all of us. Family, friends, industry and country ... we all miss your leadership, friendship and smile. You are an example for all.
- Don Nebhan , Plano, Texas
Tina, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Bob. We were "partners in crime" for many years in the business and IDDBA world. My heart hurts for his loss. Bob had a great passion for his family, his business, IDDBA, and his friends. I can still hear his laugh after all these years. Please know of our thoughts and prayers. Peace and love, Ray Haefele
- Ray Haefele, Edmond, OK
We are so sad to learn of Bob’s death. Tried to call but didn’t have a current phone # for you. Our love to you, Tina, Cameron, and Katie. Fr Bill and Bev (920) 729-6320
- Johnstons, Neenah, Wi
Tina/Family. Please accept my sincere condolences on Bob’s passing. It hardly seems like it has been 30+ years since Bob and I were serving together on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of IDDBA and working to build the organization into what it is today...a world class organization. During those early days, Bob, Carol, the officers and I shared many a laugh over his famous Wisconsin “cheese balls”. As I lay my head down tonight I will say a prayer for his safe passage to his new home and another for you (family) to comfort you in this moment of grief. God’s speed Bob. You were a great friend to many.
- Dennis Lanning, Buffalo , New York
- Debbie Coolidge, Savannah , Georgia
My mom(Janice Zirbel) and I have worked with Bob for many years at Bel Brands U.S.A. He was a great boss to have around. Love the memories we have of him. He will be missed by all. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Gilbert family. RIP my friend till we meet again.
- Marcie Vandenbroek (Zirbel), Kaukauna, Wi
As a union steward at Kaukauna Cheese and Bel Brands, it was a pleasure to have known such a fair and kind man who taught me so much. He always had such a positive attitude and It carried through to everyone he touched. God Bless!
- James Kieffer, Kaukauna, WI
Tina, Katie and Cameron, I was saddened to learn of Bob's passing. My 17 years working for him at Kaukauna Cheese was an experience in learning and absorbing from his brilliant mind, occasionally disagreeing (ok more than occasionally), political discussions ( often heated), and receiving an education in business that was sorely lacking in this history major. He kept all of us on our toes and if you disagreed you better have a rational, thoughtful defense. He was one of a kind. It was my great fortune to count him as a boss, mentor and friend.
- Cindy B Fallona, Kaukauna, WI
Tina and family, we were saddened to hear of Bob’s passing. What a great mentor, leader, and most of all , a dear friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all . Bob
- Bob Eger, Kimberly , Wisconsin
Dear Tina, We were so sorry to hear about Bob's death. What a memorable guy and couple you two were!!! You are in our thoughts and prayers - truly. We are plugging along at St. Michael's during this awful Covid time. Praying that your children, family and friends will uplift you during this sad time. God's peace to you, Kay & Randy Lewis
- Kay & Randy Lewis, Deer Park, IL
Services under the direction of:
Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel
- A Private Service Will Be Held