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Wanda Ilene Gilbert

January 8, 1927 November 9, 2020
Wanda Ilene  Gilbert
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Obituary for Wanda Ilene Gilbert
Wit, charm, honesty, loyalty, empathy, love……

Wanda Ilene Hover was born January 8, 1927, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She was the daughter of Shirl Otis Hover and Florence May (Dolph) Hover. She was the younger sister of Marjorie Louise whom she adored.

Wanda graduated from Fort Wayne’s South Side High School in 1945, where she earned typing awards, a sports letter sweater, and met her future husband, Ward H. Gilbert. Ward, a Navy veteran of WWII, married Wanda on February 2, 1948. As he pursued his career with Standard Oil and their family grew, Wanda created homes in Fort Wayne, Converse, Huntington, Muncie, and Marion, Indiana, where she worked as an insurance secretary at Johnson Hoffman Insurance Company. In 1979 she experienced the tragedy of her husband’s sudden heart attack and death. She never remarried.

She was an athlete throughout her life and loved to play golf, tennis, volleyball---“anything with a ball”. In Fort Wayne, she played for the “Bob-Inns”, an extra-curricular women’s softball team. In Muncie, she made headlines as “Mother of Five Wins City-Wide Tennis Tournament”. In Marion, Wanda played women’s volleyball and lots of golf at the Elks Country Club and Shady Hills Golf Course where she was an officer in the Ladies’ Golf Association. She participated in many tournaments and scored two “hole-in-ones”.

With her children grown and most of them living in different states, she had to overcome her fear of flying in order to visit them. In one case, Wanda bravely accompanied her daughter to Cancun, Mexico in 1987 (before Cancun was a well-known beach resort). Wanda flew again in 1995, because her daughter, who was working in Paris, had not seen any family in years. She flew 10 hours across the Atlantic alone, to be there for her daughter. An interest in French culture truly did not motivate her at all.

In 1997 she moved to Bixby, Oklahoma, to be close to two other daughters and help with child care. There, she continued with two of her passions: golf and politics, becoming a member of the Links Community Golf Course and serving as an election poll worker. Over the next ten years, she acquired more hobbies: going to casinos and buying lottery tickets. (She was a high hoper and a low roller.)

In May of 2013 she moved to Earlham, Iowa, to live with her son and daughter-in-law. She enjoyed shopping in the Greater Des Moines Area, attending the State Fair, receiving regular visits from her out-of-state family, and helping her daughter-in-law cook and garden.
In February, 2018, she moved into the Community Care Center in Stuart, Iowa. There, her witticisms and commentary entertained, if not confounded, the staff and residents. In May of 2020, she moved from the care center to Adel, Iowa to live with another daughter. For six months, she enjoyed listening to her political shows on the radio, sitting outside enjoying the sun, and going on short shopping excursions before slipping away peacefully, surrounded by family.

Her family will remember how Wanda loved making jokes and puns (and laughing at them if no one else did). They will remember her poetic tributes to her family members and co-workers, her wonderful, caring letters, and a song she wrote for an on-stage audition at a Las Vegas show featuring Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé.

They will remember how she enjoyed people and parties, where she was a most gracious hostess or a charming guest. She started bridge clubs wherever she could—even teaching bridge so there would always be enough players for a game.

She loved doing things: working in the yard, fixing things around the house, mending and sewing, and trying new recipes (olives and carrot strips in orange jello?!) She also played the spoons and the piano, but of all her activities, she loved being a homemaker and mother most. She made sure her children learned to swim, play tennis, golf, and ice skate. She took them to the library, taught them every kind of board and card game known to Doyle, and insisted they learn to type BEFORE they got married. Wanda, in her aqua station wagon or her turquoise impala convertible, took them wherever their interests or hobbies were—as long as it wasn’t more than five miles away.

She encouraged her children to go to church. She, herself, made a profession of Christian faith in 1959, and became a member of the Gethsemane Methodist Church in Muncie, Indiana. Wanda exemplified a lady to her children. She taught her children good manners and to be considerate of others. Above all, her love was constant and affirming, giving her children solid foundations to become a community college professor, a doctor, an insurance professional/seminary graduate, a business owner, and a volunteer community counselor.
Wanda is survived by her five children: Susie Gilbert of Adel, Iowa, Connie Honeycutt (Phil) of Oklahoma, Walt Gilbert (Jean Applegate) of Earlham, Iowa; Gail Royse (Daniel) of California, and Wendy Kelly (Kevin) of Indiana.

She is survived by six grandchildren: Zach Gilbert (Emily Miller) of Iowa, Elizabeth Gilbert DeZeeuw (Alex) of Michigan, Phoebe Royse Swank of Kentucky, Joseph Royse of California, Kip Honeycutt of Texas, and Chloe Honeycutt Hernandez (Simon) of Oklahoma, as well as nine great-grandchildren: Bo, Sequoia, Saige, Trinity, Damien, Vashti, Justin, Simon, Aubrey …and one dog, Pepper.

She is also survived by her nephew Jeffery Schafer of Arizona, her nieces Ann Schafer Johnson of Texas, Gwen Schafer Kluthe of Texas, and Sally Schafer Schuermann of Texas, as well as great-grandnephews and nieces.

Wanda was preceded in death by her husband Ward, her father Shirl Hover, her mother Florence (Dolph) Hover, her sister Marjorie (Hover) Schafer, her cousin Rita Jean Ream… and dogs Lucky, Sugar, and Spice.

On-line condolences can be made at A memorial service is planned in Marion, Indiana, at a later date.
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Event Information

Cremation has taken place at the Johnson Family Funeral Home & Crematory.

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