Gary E. Gilbert

Gary E. Gilbert, 63, of Onaway, died Sunday April 9, 2017 with his family at his bedside. The son of Verlin and Eva (Scott) Gilbert, Gary was born in Grandville April 21, 1953 and moved to Onaway when he was a small child. He married the love of his life, Arla J. Dunsmore, at Holy Cross Lutheran Church.


Working for himself as a licensed builder and contractor since 1979, Gary built new homes and re-modeled many homes in the Onaway area. He was a member of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Local 876 for more than 35 years and did storm work all over the United States. Creative and talented, Gary crafted gorgeous flower pots, vases, signage, and birdhouses from small stones. His beautiful stonework eventually turned into a business keeping him busy creating new custom projects for his customers.

An avid outdoorsman with a great love for the woods of northern Michigan, Gary was a skilled hunter and fisherman. He loved walking the woods looking for scrapes and rubs and finding the perfect place to deer hunt each fall. His knowledge of the woods and hunting expertise usually paid off as he always seemed to take a monster buck.  Not only was he an avid deer hunter, but an avid bear and cat hunter as well. Gary loved hunting, but loved fishing just as well and enjoyed frequent trips to Canada to fish for walleye and pike. Besides hunting and fishing, Gary was a licensed pilot and enjoyed gardening.

With his quick-wit, Gary was the king of “one-liners” and had a gift for making people laugh. He was well-liked and had numerous friends; many that he loved to hunt and fish with. He had a creative mind and was well-informed on current events and politics. A loyal companion to Arla for more than 42 years, Gary was devoted to his family. He loved his wife, children, and grandchildren with his whole heart and loved his stepchildren as they were his own.

Surviving Gary is his loving wife, Arla Gilbert of Onaway; daughter, Sarah (Paul) Zampich of Millersburg; son, Siloam (Carina) Gilbert of Onaway; stepdaughter, June LaFave of Onaway; stepson, Gary LaFave of Waveland, Mississippi; 13 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; as well as his mother, Eva Gilbert, also of Onaway. Gary also leaves his sister, Alice (Emery) Welch of Onaway; four brothers, Verlin “Ray” of Alaska, Edward of Onaway, John (Deanna) of Onaway and Richard (Tammy) of Orion Township; and numerous nieces, nephews, c

ousins, in-laws, and many many friends.

Gary was preceded in death by his father, Verlin Gilbert; stepson, Ronald LaFave; and two brothers, Ronald and Andrew.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday April 21, at the Forest Township Hall (Tower Hall). Terry Ormsbee will officiate. Gary’s family will receive friends and have a meal at the hall following the service. A dinner and auction will be held Saturday, April 22, from 4 – 9 p.m. at the Forest Township Hall with the proceeds for medical and final expenses for Gary. Condolences may be shared with Gary’s family at