Karla Gilbert

Obituary of Karla Gilbert

On September 1, 2017, the Lord called one of his special angels, Karla Gilbert, 55, of Whitehouse, to come home and stand by His side. While she was still involved with many projects helping His children of East Texas, He had more important projects for her in Heaven.

Karla was born on November 3, 1961 in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. During her early years, Karla did her part to care for others. Karla started working at age 14 to help support her family, and by high school, was working two jobs. While attending Pittsburg High School, Karla was a twirler and, in 1980, she was awarded Miss Congeniality in the Northeast Texas Pageant. After high school, Karla continued to work a variety of jobs in order to learn many diverse types of business practices.

On December 15, 1989, Karla married the local high school agriculture teacher, Hank Gilbert. Shortly thereafter, to complement their cattle business, the couple formed a small janitorial business. Within a few short years, Karla was managing a workforce of 100+ employees working in three states. Shortly after the birth of their first son, Peyton, in 1993, they sold that business. By the time their second son, Cody, was born in 1995, the couple had formed their current business, Professional Keepers, and relocated to Whitehouse.

Karla was always heavily involved in all aspects of her children’s lives. From participating in PTO activities while both were in grade school, she attended every school-related activity that both boys were ever involved with. School parties, dances, baseball games, golf tournaments, band competitions, UIL competitions, and FFA conventions and competitions were what she lived for and enjoyed very much. She was very proud to be awarded the Honorary State Farmer Degree from the Texas FFA after her oldest son, Peyton, completed his year of service as Texas FFA President. She was also proud to be “head golf mom” for the UT Tyler Men’s Golf Team the past four years while her youngest son, Cody, was a member of the team. She would like to acknowledge her appreciation to Mr. Robin Ballard (WHS Golf Coach), Mr. Seth Phillips (former WHS Speech/Debate Coach), Mr. Denny Whitley (former WHS Band Director), and Mr. Michael McMunn (UT Tyler Men’s Golf Coach) for their positive influence, and as role models, that helped mold her sons into the fine young men that they have become.

Karla spent the last 8 years of her wonderful life volunteering for the East Texas Crisis Center for abused women and children in Tyler. After her diagnosis of terminal cancer in May of this year, she began the process of creating a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation to benefit the future residents of the center for the years beyond her life. She asks, that in lieu of flowers and plants, please, instead, make a monetary contribution to the East Texas Crisis Center in her name. She also asks that, rather than being sad for her and the family, instead celebrate all that she was able to accomplish while on this earth. She also wanted to challenge all of her friends and acquaintances to love everyone unconditionally, try to do something every day for someone less fortunate and to always stand up and speak out for what you believe.

Karla is survived by her husband Hank Gilbert; two sons: Peyton Gilbert and Cody Gilbert, both of Tyler; her mother, Norma Jackson; a brother, Mike Murphy; as well as several nieces and nephews and many friends.

She was preceded in death by her father, Carl Murphy; a brother, Pat Murphy; and her grandparents Russell and Virgie Murphy.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 A.M. Monday, September 4, 2017 at Erman Smith funeral home. Burial will follow at Smyrna Cemetery in Wood County. Visitation will be held from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. Sunday, September 3, also at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made in Mrs. Gilbert's name to the East Texas Crisis Center: PO Box 7060, Tyler, Texas 75711.