Inclusion Leads to Full Life

Dean Gilbert, proponent of Accept Culture, passes at 82.

My father passed away recently. His funeral service was performed by a close friend, Lois Olmstead, who also performed my mother’s service 10 years earlier. It’s a fascinating experience to see the lives of your parents shared by someone who may have known them better than you. As children we never really know our parents as unique individuals. They’re just mom and dad. Parents give and children take.

I’ve always known my dad’s childhood was tough from a very young age. He herded sheep across miles of hills and prairie alone with his brother, who was just two years older.  He was 7. Often, during winters of the school year, he would stay in houses with other families who lived closer to the school. In these cases, he went weeks at a time without seeing his parents. This was ordinary life we can’t even imagine now.

During the funeral service Lois spoke of my dad’s attitude towards people. He was open to friendship with anyone. He was involved with so many groups and clubs in his home of Livingston, MT. He was a member of the American Legion, Park County Pioneers, the Cemetery Board, and the Clyde Park Old Settlers. This last group was special because he was a founding member in 1978. Old Settlers still holds their annual event every September. As part of these organizations he collected friends along the way.

He was a fabulous storyteller. Everybody could listen. He was genuine and sincere. So many, including myself, will often embellish a story. Others will always come up with something to top any story you might have. Not him. He was a genuine Montana cowboy. Always a gentlemen because he knew of no alternative. Always the first to help if you needed it. A sincere man who included everyone in his circle of friends.

Being this kind of man gets noticed because there were many along the way who helped him too. There was always a shed to build, or fence to fix. Every time we spoke by phone, he told me of the projects he was working on and there were always friends around to contribute. Or he would tell me who he ran into at the Electric Co-op meetings, or at the Legion.

At the age of 82 he also attended the funerals of many of his friends. He was part of the Honor Guard at the Legion and he would perform the 21-gun salute for his fellow veterans who had passed. At his funeral, the Honor Guard Commander told stories of how Dean was always there, even in the worst weather, and he never complained. Even as some of the Honor Guard themselves were passing away and it became difficult to get the required numbers, he would show up ready on short notice. You did what you had to do, and you did it right. You PAID your respect, by showing up.

Maybe I’m straying from the subject. The point that I’m trying to make is that my dad was a man of inclusion, not exclusion. Today’s politics didn’t make sense to him because the polarity drove people apart. He couldn’t understand why politics decided who you could associate with. He might agree or disagree with you, but it NEVER meant you couldn’t be his friend. Where has that gone?

My dad’s name was Dean Gilbert. A condolence card I received said “He was the strong, silent type – A friend to everyone in Park County.” See that word there? They said he was a friend to EVERYONE. Another card said “What a gift to Park County. This giant of a man loved, protected, and served Park County and America. We were blessed to have shared moments in time with him.” What will people say or write about each one of us when we pass on? Will the words written about us be as gracious?

My dad had a full life. He loved his country, family, friends, and his whole community. He included everybody in that. He believed in unity and meeting in the middle. What will we become if we follow the current path of exclusion? There’s so much talk of cancel culture. The opposite of cancel is to accept. My dad believed in accept culture. By accepting others as they were, he lived a beautiful life surrounded by many, many friends. Let’s all practice ACCEPT CULTURE like my dad did. If we don’t, who will show up at our funeral?

Please visit the site of my dear friend Lois at And please find a way to share the beautiful concept of ACCEPT CULTURE with your friends and family. To read more posts from Judson Gilbert in the future, follow our blog and visit our home page

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