Lawrence James Gilbert passed away peacefully at his home on Friday, February 5, 2021, at the age of 67.
Born July 15, 1953, in Pittsburgh, PA, he was the son of the late James Lawrence and Dorothy Triner Gilbert.
In addition to his parents, he was also preceded in death by Hannah Laramae, a baby born directly into heaven through miscarriage; and, by his son, Nathanael Lawrence.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Iris May Gilbert, whom he married on June 28, 1975, in Washington, PA.
He was a 1971 graduate of Chartiers Valley High School in Carnegie, PA. He earned his Associates Degree in Biology from Community College of Alleghany County, Pittsburgh, PA; his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Earth Sciences from California University of Pennsylvania; and, his Teaching Certificate from Radford University, VA. He did additional postgraduate work at several colleges, including Oklahoma State University, Stillwater; University of Idaho, Moscow; and, West Virginia University, Morgantown.
His certifications included Radio Astronomer from NRAO, Greenbank, WV; Lunar Materials Instructor from NASA; and, numerous national recognition awards through NASA. He was also a recipient of the Scott Crossfield Award for Excellence in Aerospace Education.
He began his career as an Earth Science Instructor at Alleghany High School, Covington, VA, and concluded his teaching career as an Instructor at Concord University, Athens, WV; an Adjunct Professor at Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke, VA; and, a substitute teacher at Covington High School.
However, it was the position in the intervening years for which he was primarily known. As an Aerospace Education Specialist with NASA, he conducted seminars and educational programs for the K-12 community as well as for professional organizations. He brought to life the space program for thousands of students throughout the mid-Atlantic states, encouraging them to study hard and to pursue their dreams. His enthusiasm for NASA’s history, potential, and future along with his incredible and detailed knowledge – presented passionately and without notes – amazed his audiences and held them spellbound.
After his retirement and until he was called Home to meet his Maker, he spent a fair amount of time at home doing what he enjoyed – working outside, woodworking, and reading nonfiction – mostly history and science. Active in church services at Peaceful Valley Assembly of God, he also assisted with landscaping and recycling ministries.
His wife will receive friends at Arritt Funeral Home on Wednesday, February 10, from 12:00-2:00 PM. Following, an open service will be conducted at Arritt Funeral Home on Wednesday, February 10 at 2:00 PM. The Reverend Dr. John Parks will officiate. Pallbearers will be selected from among those in attendance. Interment will be at Cedar Hill Cemetery.