James (“Jim”) Davidson Gilbert Jr., 78, of Red Bank, passed away on December 27 in Red Bank. Jim was born in East Orange, the youngest son of James and Marguerite Gilbert. He was raised in Glen Ridge and graduated from Glen Ridge High School in 1956. It was there that he met the love of his life and future wife, Jean Curran. He was the co-captain of the Glen Ridge football team and went on to play for Upsala College where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1960. After college, Jim enlisted in the Army Reserve and served six months active duty. Soon after, Jim and Jean were married in 1961.
Jim established a successful career in sales that lasted 40 years; the last 25 of which were spent with the Grapek Company as a sales manager. During this time, Jim and Jean lovingly raised their three children (Jim, Laurie, and Tim) in Lincroft.
Aside from his family, one of Jim’s greatest passions in life was the game of football. He volunteered countless hours as an assistant Pop Warner football coach, board member of the River Plaza Boys Club, and football commissioner for the River Plaza-Lincroft Chargers Pop Warner football team.
His three children all graduated from Middletown High School South; his two sons were football players and his daughter a cheerleader. He was a co-founder of the Middletown High School South Booster Club when the school opened in 1976 and he remained an active member for 20 years.
In the early 1980’s, Jim organized and served as co-chairperson for the “Light the Fields” committee which raised money to install lights at both Middletown North and South high school football fields. In 1984, Friday Night Lights in Middletown became a reality, thanks, in large part to Jim’s leadership and dedication.
In 1990, Jim created the Eagles Football Record book, which consists of over 150 pages of statistics, memories and achievements of Middletown High School South football players. He updated and maintained the book for 20 years on behalf of the Eagles Touchdown Club.
He also helped organize the “Eagles” Hall of Fame committee which recognizes past outstanding athletes of Middletown H.S. South. Jim attended Middletown South football games for the last 40 years; rarely missing a home or away game, and establishing himself as one of the Eagles most beloved, dedicated and loyal fans.
During retirement, Jim served as the treasurer of the Shadow Lake Village (SLV) Men’s Golf League and was a member of the SLV Poker Club. Rather than pursuing travel as a retirement hobby, Jim and Jean mostly preferred to stay close to home to be near their friends and family.
Jim was an adoring grandfather to his seven grandchildren; attending as many of their activities as humanly possible. Jim was well known for his caring and kind nature, as well as his generosity, loyalty and quick-witted sense of humor. He is greatly missed by his family and all who knew him.
Jim was predeceased by his brother, Thomas Gilbert; and a sister, Helen Price. He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Jean; his children: Jim and his wife, Allyson, Laurie and her husband Jim and Tim and his wife Michele; and seven grandchildren: Sean, Connor, Kate Lynn, Jimmy, Michael, Meghan and Brendan.
Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank, was in charge of arrangements.
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